Supply constricts take-up levels in Cambridge lab space market whilst demand rages during COVID
Office sector remains strong in spite of uncertainties caused by pandemic
Industrial markets suffer from lack of stock
Cheffins notes that rents are increasing across the major Parks and locations. By way of example rents in the Science Village at Chesterford Research Park jumped by 15 per cent in the 12 months from December 2019.
Prime fully fitted rents averaged at £45 psf in 2020 and £35 psf for prime shell and core.
Cheffins Datapoint found that 2020 saw take-up at 66,000 sqft, and whilst this is down on the 2019 figure of 177,000 sqft, this is due to a lack of stock. In total, 2020 saw 49,000 sqft Grade A space taken up and 17,000 sqft of Grade B, illustrative of the demand for fully fitted lab space as the life sciences sector looks for product which can be occupied immediately.
Availability stands at just 4,490 sqft of Grade A space and 34,000 sqft of Grade B space from the end of 2020 offered for occupation.
Key deals in 2020 included: 11,700 sqft let to Oncologica Ltd at the Newnham Building, Chesterford Research Park and 24,900 sqft to BitBio Ltd at Building 950, Babraham Research Park.
Cheffins notes that average rents in 2020 stood at £48.50 psf for prime locations and £38 - £40 for secondary space. Edge of town locations achieved £36 psf and £30 - £33 for secondary areas.
The Cheffins data shows that take-up for 2020 was at 360,000 sqft, against 620,000 sqft in 2019. And key findings show that 25 per cent of office buildings were taken by serviced/flexible office providers. Whilst take-up in 2020 was significantly lower than the previous year, this level of activity can be seen as positive when viewed against the massive uncertainties caused by COVID.
At the end of 2020, some 8111,000 sqft of office space was available in the market, this is up on 2019’s figure of 630,000. However, only 125,000 sqft of this accommodation hasn’t already been let ahead of completion. With this level of supply, against the backdrop of a continued reduction in demand due to the current pandemic, it is reasonable to assume there will continue to be upward pressure on prime rents.
Key office transactions in 2020 include: 37,780 sqft let to Amgen at 216 Cambridge Science Park; 64,000 sqft let to Fora at 20 Station Road; 93,000 sqft let to Mathworks at 1 Cambridge Science Park and 26,650 sqft let to Mantle Group at 9 Hills Road.
Prime Cambridge city rents achieved £16 psf in 2020, with £8-£12 psf for secondary space. Industrial buildings within 10 miles of the city saw £12.50 psf for prime stock and £6 - £10 psf for secondary examples. Rental growth into double digits has encouraged developers to promote new industrial schemes and in 2021 there will be a series of new developments coming to the market.
Take-up for 2020 sat at around 200,000 sqft, below the ten-year average of 350,000 sqft but this reflects the effect of coronavirus restrictions on the general market.
The Cheffins findings show that of the 460,000 sqft of available space at the end of 2020, only around 6 per cent was new build and 29 per cent was better quality second-hand stock. However, Grade A buildings accounted for a massive 63 per cent of take-up illustrating that occupiers are looking for quality product and are willing to pay higher rents for it. Cheffins notes that availability is up in 2020 against the 2019 figure of 350,000 sqft.
Key deals for 2020 include: 50,284 sqft to Beam Group at 400 Buckingway Business Park; 13,769 sqft to Grifols at Cambridge Research Park; 20,000 sqft to Mr Fothergills Seeds at Newmarket Business Park and various lettings in Sawston to Pulpex, Harrow Green and Building Product Solutions.