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Bidwells and COEL seminar discusses repurposing of industrial and commercial space in Cambridge





The repurposing of industrial and commercial space for laboratories is a hot topic in Cambridge right now, and it was the subject of a breakfast seminar.

Property consultants Bidwells and design and fit-out company COEL organised the fully booked event at Trumpington Bidwell House last Tuesday (July 18).

Hugh Daniels, commercial director of COEL. Picture: Keith Heppell
Hugh Daniels, commercial director of COEL. Picture: Keith Heppell

Lizzie Bradbury, from COEL, began by posing the key question: ‘Why do we need to repurpose?’

The audience heard that Cambridge life science businesses account for close to 50 per cent of all business and lab occupancy in the city.

From left, Jonathan Wright, Bidwells pioneer, and Subjit Jassy, director of Pioneer Group. Picture: Keith Heppell
From left, Jonathan Wright, Bidwells pioneer, and Subjit Jassy, director of Pioneer Group. Picture: Keith Heppell

With the UK’s £94bn life science sector being one of its genuine success stories, demand here for more space is huge which, as the Cambridge Independent has reported, has led to proposals to accommodate science and technology companies in redevelopments of The Grafton and Beehive shopping centres, for example.

Sue Foxley, research director at Bidwells, examined the data and research on the demand for lab space before a presentation on Sherlock Biosciences, a collaborative project involving Bidwells and COEL.

Jon Green, director of Unity Campus. Picture: Keith Heppell
Jon Green, director of Unity Campus. Picture: Keith Heppell

The audience heard how an industrial warehouse was converted into clean rooms, labs and office space for the company.

Jonathan Wright, partner, building surveying at Bidwells, Dean Powell, group MEP at COEL and Gemma Noakes, COEL’s lead designer on the project, spoke about the scale, scope and complexities of the scheme, while highlighting the versatility that some types of industrial conversion can provide.

Lizzie Bradbury, of COEL. Picture: Keith Heppell
Lizzie Bradbury, of COEL. Picture: Keith Heppell

While there are major new developments on the way in Cambridge to cater for demand, guests heard how repurposing tends to be faster to deliver and has lower levels of carbon emissions compared to new build facilities.

Among the key considerations are structural capabilities, energy provision and waste disposal.

The COEL and Bidwells breakfast seminar at Bidwell House. Picture: Keith Heppell
The COEL and Bidwells breakfast seminar at Bidwell House. Picture: Keith Heppell

A panel discussion concluded the event with Subjit Jassy, director of development and asset management at Pioneer Group as guest speaker.

Subjit is part of the team leading the proposed repurposing of The Grafton. He was joined on the panel by Jonathan Wright and Hugh Daniels, commercial director at COEL.

The COEL and Bidwells breakfast seminar at Bidwell House. Picture: Keith Heppell
The COEL and Bidwells breakfast seminar at Bidwell House. Picture: Keith Heppell

The panel was chaired by Jon Green, Director at Unity Campus, a new urban innovation park in South Cambridgeshire which comprises a repurposed industrial building and new buildings.

Hugh Daniels, commercial director at COEL, said: ‘We were delighted by the interest and uptake in this event, helped by the participation of our guest speaker Subjit Jassy and our chair Jon Green. The event gave us the opportunity to talk about Sherlock Biosciences, a collaborative project between Bidwells and COEL which we are both immensely proud of.”

The COEL and Bidwells breakfast seminar at Bidwell House. Picture: Keith Heppell
The COEL and Bidwells breakfast seminar at Bidwell House. Picture: Keith Heppell

Jonathan Wright said: “It was brilliant to have a forum discuss the challenges and advantages of these kinds of conversions, to help provide a solution to the current shortage of labs. Thank you to all who attended and participated in the event.”



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