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

Vacant shops and former restaurants could be turned into office space at The Grafton centre in Cambridge.

The Grafton
The Grafton

Legal & General has submitted plans for new office space in the Cambridge shopping centre, in partnership with flexible workspace provider x+why.

The proposed 15,000 sq ft space would combine two former retail units, creating one of the first retail centre-to-flexible-office space conversions in the UK.

Spare retail units would be repurposed to meet demand for offices in Cambridge and encourage footfall to The Grafton and the surrounding area.

Above the offices and co-working spaces, x+why are planning The Galleries – designed by local architects NRAP – which would offer the small to medium-sized member businesses breakout areas with event spaces, games room, bar and quiet/meditation zones.

Legal & General acquired The Grafton in 2015 and have since delivered a comprehensive refurbishment.

Tom Williams, fund manager at Legal & General, said: "Repurposing excess retail space into alternative uses that change the rhythm of the asset is at the heart of the business plan.

"We are excited to be able to meet the rising demand for offices and champion retail at the same time."

He added: “As retail continues to evolve, the new unit at The Grafton will help encourage footfall by putting potential customers on retailers’ doorsteps five days a week, whilst giving Cambridge-based businesses a functional, well-designed space to grow.”

The offices will be fully fitted out by x+why with a comfortable atmosphere created through the combination of natural materials - timber, plywood, cork, felt - and harder, industrial materials such as concrete, metal, resin or vinyl.

The front and back of the unit will be linked with a wide avenue to bring in natural light from a roof window in the main shopping concourse, and from new picture windows proposed for the rear façade.

The Grafton was opened in 1983 and comprises nearly 500,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space.

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