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The Grafton centre in Cambridge is up for sale

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The Grafton shopping centre was placed for sale today (June 17), with real estate advisors Savills saying there are “opportunities to redevelop into world class life science, office, educational, hotel and experiential destination”.

The Grafton centre
The Grafton centre

The 12-acre site in the heart of Cambridge, which was built as a retail experience in the 1980s, is owned by Legal & General. It includes car park space for 1,150 cars.

“We are bringing the site to market in its entirety,” said a spokesperson for Savills. The guide price is not publicly available.

The redevelopment opportunity is being highlighted because there is currently no commercial lab space in the centre of Cambridge.

“The property presents a major opportunity for redevelopment and repurposing across 12 acres in the heart of Cambridge city centre,” said Savills in a launch statement. “The Grafton presents an unrivalled opportunity to redevelop all or part of the scheme, with a number of initiatives already progressing or agreed including the introduction of office space, co-working, hotel, education and alternative leisure uses.

“In particular, the site presents a unique opportunity for repurposing into life sciences and laboratory accommodation, with the potential to provide in excess of 80,000 sq ft of much-needed lab space in the city.”

The Grafton has provided Cambridge with a retail experience since opening in the 1980s
The Grafton has provided Cambridge with a retail experience since opening in the 1980s

The 500,000sq ft retail core of the site reopened in early 2020 after a £28.5million refurbishment programme but, with the retail sector still readjusting to the reshaped economic landscape post-pandemic, the view now appears to be that the site could have value to other types of client.

Savills research has shown that Cambridge saw £1.21billion of life science related capital raised in 2020, along with a considerable demand from life sciences occupiers for lab space. However, the city’s market is currently constrained due to a significant lack of available stock, and, as it stands, there are no commercially marketed labs currently within the city centre.

Mark Garmon-Jones, head of repurposing and retail investment at Savills, said: “The Grafton presents a truly extraordinary one-off opportunity to redevelop 12 acres in Cambridge to a standout, revitalised mixed-use destination. Cambridge is a globally-recognised location across a number of sectors and the potential for life sciences uses at this scheme is particularly exciting.”

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Vacant shops and restaurants at The Grafton centre in Cambridge could become office space

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