Hauxton Mill site in South Cambridgeshire to be turned into business park
A derelict mill has been acquired by o2h, a Cambridge-based business with a track record of nurturing and investing in emerging life science and tech companies
The firm plans to turn the 2.76-acre heritage site at Hauxton Mill into the o2h SciTech Park, in order to create one of the region’s most exciting communities of entrepreneurs in life sciences, technology and social enterprise.
The buildings at the mill date back to the 16th century and the mill itself was operating as a commercial enterprise as recently as 1972.
As well as creating state-of-the-art office and laboratory space, o2h plans to open a café for the public to enjoy along one of the most popular heritage walking routes in Cambridge.
The o2h SciTech Park will create a new and unique landmark in the area, and the co-working and biology lab space will be available to entrepreneurs in what should be a highly stimulating, collaborative and innovative environment.
Sunil Shah, CEO of o2h – which was founded in 2015 and which also has an office in Gujarat, India – spoke to the Cambridge Independent from Boston, Massachusetts, where he was attending a conference.
He said: “There are three buildings there – The New Mill House, which needs work, The Mill Building, which is a beautiful building, and then there’s what used to be called The Old Mill House, which we’re starting on right now.
“They’ve been renamed Hauxton House, The Old Mill Warehouse and The Cell.”
Mr Shah notes that some basic refurbishment work has started on Hauxton House and that a master site plan for the whole site is being drawn up with the help of the firm’s architects.
“We’ll go for planning permission sometime in a couple of quarters, I would have thought,” he said, “and after that we can start developing the whole site.”
Asked when he thinks the whole park might be open for business, Mr Shah said: “Because the site hasn’t been used for such a long time, it’s a really hard question to answer. When you take on a project like this, you never know what challenges will come up as you move along.
“I certainly feel that 18 months/two years should be achievable.”
Mr Shah lives in South Cambridgeshire and has driven past Hauxton Mill on a number of ocassions. “I was intrigued by the building, as probably many other people are,” he recalled, “and I was actually looking for something a lot smaller initially...
“We invest in start-up biotech companies and they are quite poorly funded generally, and they can’t afford very high-end infrastructure or lab space, etc. – and even what’s available is pretty much full up now.
“Most of Cambridge is full up, in terms of biotech space, so I was looking for something for some of the companies that we’ve invested in, to house them and to allow them to grow.
“So while I was looking at various places, this was always on my radar.
“I contacted Savills, who were the agents at the time, and there was someone already interested in the plot but that fell through and we put in an offer.”
Mr Shah has a positive vision for the park as part of the community, not just as a place to generate revenue.
“I think the residents will be quite happy that we are going to bring the site back to life,” he said, “and have some kind of café or public access area within the building as well.”