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Oxbridge office and lab spaces stay resilient against Covid-19

Posted on Sep 24, 2020 by Cambridge Catalyst

According to property consultants, Bidwells, office and laboratory space has continued to be taken up in the Oxford and Cambridge areas during the pandemic

You would have thought that property consultants for office and lab spaces would have been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic, due to the exponential growth in companies working remotely. However, according to reports from Bidwells, spaces have continued to be steadily taken up during the pandemic.

The figures suggest that the confirmed office and lab take-up in Oxford has totalled up to 117,600 sq. ft between January and July of this year, reaching 85% of the city’s 10-year average. In Cambridge, combined office and lab take-up totalled up to 130,300 sq. ft. in the same period. Although this only equates to 40 percent of the city’s 10-year average, the first six weeks of Q3 have seen a further 50,000 sq. ft of transactions complete and there is a significant volume of space under offer which, when complete, will bring the percentage closer to 80 percent.

The university cities of Oxford and Cambridge combined has seen a near threefold increase in scientific and technical employment over the last decade. The latest ONS data shows a 72% increase in Oxford and Cambridge science and technical employment between 2017-18, compared with an 8% growth in employment overall. Both of the cities saw some of the lowest levels of staff furloughed in the country at 13% and 11% respectively compared with a national average of over 24%.

The life science sector was inevitably a key driver of demand; the availability of lab space in Cambridge fell to just 3.5% by the end of June.

Given the disruption and uncertainty during the latter four months of H1, this is a remarkable outcome and testament to the unique business structure of these markets. To put this in context, the UK’s major regional cities, on average, saw 30% of their 10 year mean take up over the same period.

To view and download the Oxfordshire Office and Lab Summer 2020 report click here.

To view and download the Cambridgeshire Office and Lab Summer 2020 report click here.


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