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Abstract steps up £500m plans for new Cambridge International Technology Park near Arm HQ

Plans for a £500million Cambridge International Technology Park project have stepped up, with a second plot of land acquired by Mark Glatman’s Abstract and a planning application for the first lab and office space on site submitted.

The business park is proposed on what is currently open farmland off Fulbourn Road, zoned for business use, that lies next to Peterhouse Technology Park, which is home to Arm’s global headquarters.

A CGI of the proposed Cambridge International Technology Park, planned for land off Fulbourn Road. Image: Abstract
A CGI of the proposed Cambridge International Technology Park, planned for land off Fulbourn Road. Image: Abstract

Last July, the Cambridge Independent reported how Abstract Securities’ wholly-owned subsidiary, Abstract (Cambridge) Limited, had acquired a 9.17-acre (3.71ha) site on the land with Peterhouse, the University of Cambridge college, and hoped to build 300,000 sq ft of offices and car parking there, with a potential value of £200million.

Abstract Cambridge has now completed the purchase of a second, adjoining site, which increases its ownership to 15.26 acres (6.177 ha) of development land. If fully developed, Abstract puts the value of the site at £400million-£500million.

The company has now submitted its first planning application for the site, which envisages 500,000 net sq ft of laboratory enabled offices. Abstract says these are “aimed at life sciences, biotechnology and more traditional office occupiers”.

If planning permission is granted, Abstract hopes work could start this summer and the site wide infrastructure ready, along with the first buildings, in 2023.

Chief executive Mark Glatman, who set up Abstract in 2000, said: “We jumped at the opportunity to buy the balance of this allocated land, after our initial purchase last summer, and we believe that this is a fantastic opportunity to create a new science and technology destination in the Cambridge market.

“As with all Abstract schemes, we are focused on providing buildings of the highest quality, with great environmental credentials, but this scheme will also be shaped by what has been learnt through the pandemic and I am confident that the wellness offering will be second to none, particularly as occupiers start encouraging their teams back into the workplace.

Mark Glatman, chief executive of Abstract Securities
Mark Glatman, chief executive of Abstract Securities

“We are excited to be developing in Cambridge. This is a unique market and the opportunity to create Cambridge International Technology Park, the largest new science destination in the city for many years, will help harness growth and investment into science and knowledge-based businesses, appealing to those companies looking to expand and grow organically as well as companies looking to upgrade from dated first generation space in the city.

“The additional land has increased the net floor area we can deliver from 300,000 sq ft to around 500,000 sq ft as well as providing much better access to the technology park.

“Again, we are delighted to have worked on the purchase with Peterhouse, the oldest college in Cambridge, founded in 1284, and we will be maintaining a close relationship throughout the development process in order to realise our aligned ambitions for the land.

“Now we have completed this further site acquisition, Peterhouse will retain the freehold ownership of the land and have granted Abstract on each site a 175-year ground lease which will attract a three per cent ground rent after buildings are completed and let.”

He added: “Abstract have retained Scott Brownrigg to design their proposals for the site which will provide a range of grade A office buildings capable of being occupied by a variety of users for multi or single occupation, but particularly focused on the technology, science and knowledge-based sectors.

“Buildings will be highly sustainable, while providing flexible space suitable for a range of end user needs, particularly important given the diverse range of occupiers in the Cambridge market. Bowmer & Kirkland have been appointed to build out the scheme.”

The new technology park could be built adjacent to the busienss park that is home to Arm, off Fulbourn Road. Picture: Keith Heppell
The new technology park could be built adjacent to the busienss park that is home to Arm, off Fulbourn Road. Picture: Keith Heppell

Christopher McPherson, development director of Abstract Securities, said: “With the planning application submitted, our focus is now on mobilising the construction team as soon as consent is given, and we are targeting a start on site early this summer.

“We have applied for detailed consent on the first building of around 105,000 sq ft, and our intention is to complete this, together with the infrastructure for the entire scheme as a first phase by summer 2023.

“We are also looking to start four further buildings, currently ranging from 75,000 sq ft to 250,000 sq ft as soon as possible, either for single or multi occupation. In all we will be able to accommodate lettings upwards of 12,500 sq ft and the buildings are designed for both office and laboratory users.

“We can discuss more specialised requirements with potential occupiers should this be of interest. The technology park will provide a spacious, occupier friendly environment with easy access to the city centre and will be a great place to work.

“There is nowhere else in the city which can offer this amount of new development on a single site.’’

Bidwells represented Peterhouse. Abstract was advised by Pinsent Masons and Peterhouse by Mills & Reeve. Bidwells and Cheffins are retained letting agents for the Cambridge International Technology Park.

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