Lancaster Way, a modern business park in Ely, Cambridgeshire
With some of the world's best-known companies moving to Cambridge, state-of-the-art business parks are springing up all over the surrounding area.
Lancaster Way in Ely is home to a diverse range of some 75 businesses which between them employ about 1,400 people and occupy some 900,000 sq ft (83,610 sq m) of accommodation, extending to 175 acres – making it one of the largest in the East of England region.
The estate benefits from excellent infrastructure, a pleasant landscaped environment, superfast broadband and 24/7 security 365 days a year. It is owned and managed by family-owned Grovemere Property Ltd.
Harvey Bibby, marketing and development director of Grovemere, said: “We’re quite a small development investment and management company. We’re based on site, and we will stay as involved as occupiers want us to be through the process of delivering a new building for them.”
Lancaster Way is named after the bombers which flew from the site – it was formerly RAF Witchford – during the Second World War and was bought from the Ministry of Defence in the 1960s.
The Brand family founded Grovemere in 1924, originally as an agricultural business, and initially used the hangars for grain storage. Today, only one Lancaster bomber hangar remains, occupied by the award-winning Ellgia Recycling.Grovemere relocated to its new office there in November 2007.
Mr Bibby said: “We manage the day-to-day running of the park and will build to suit people’s requirements if they want to buy or lease a new building from us.”
He has been with Grovemere for five years. “In that time we’ve built – or commenced building – five or six new buildings for businesses, starting with the British Society of Plant Breeders in 2012, and we’re under construction with two new buildings at the moment,” he said.
Lancaster Way is one of five business parks that make up the Cambridge Compass Enterprise Zone and, as a result, offers significant savings for companies which occupy premises on the site. The four others are Cambourne Business Park, Cambridge Research Park at Waterbeach, Northstowe and Haverhill Business Park.
“That’s certainly helped in the promotion of land for new buildings because it comes with some pluses for occupiers – mainly in terms of business rates benefit,” said Mr Bibby.
“The idea behind it was to try and take some of the weight off the infrastructure of Cambridge itself by encouraging business to relocate outside the city but still benefit from the innovation and collaboration going on there.”
In the past, Lancaster Way offered predominantly warehousing and industrial space, whereas now the focus appears to be on research and development (R&D) – due in the main to its close proximity to Cambridge. Recent additions to the park include Ellutia, which specialises in gas chromatography instruments, and Deanta Doors.
“It’s hard to explain just how wide the breadth of interest is,” said Mr Bibby. “At the moment we have a planning application in for a new 110,000 sq ft facility with Thorlabs, a local company linked to the fibre optic industry.”
He added: “Our ethos is that we want to provide a high-quality standard of accommodation. A lot of people’s perception of a business park is that it’s quite industrial in its nature, but we’re a step on from that in terms of our landscaping and visual amenity. We try and offer the best service we can.”
Cheffins and Bidwells have been the park’s joint agents for 20 years.
Steven Harvey, of Cheffins, said: “Lancaster Way is a business park in the truest sense of the term because you’ve got a mixture of all sorts of different occupiers on there, from traditional offices to R&D to industrial to factory and manufacturing as well as storage. It caters for everyone.
“Development land is available there to design and build projects on, on a sale or letting basis, which we can help facilitate as agents.”
Bidwells agent Russell Catley said: “Lancaster Way boasts a number of excellent credentials, and having Grovemere at the heart of it means they are able to offer an exceptional service and can respond quickly and precisely to their occupiers’ needs – and they have an excellent working relationship with all their tenants.
“We are in detailed discussions for further new commercial buildings.”