MEPC Milton Park in Oxfordshire, one of Europe’s largest science and technology communities, has unveiled plans for the Bee House, a new state-of-the-art building that will be Oxfordshire’s newest and largest flexible co-working building.
The Bee House will be the result of a £12.4 million refurbishment of 140 Eastern Avenue to meet the growing demand for agile workspace in Oxfordshire from spin-outs and start-ups, those people using the ‘hub and spoke’ model to work locally and travel into city offices less frequently, and companies which require grow-on space.
140 Eastern Avenue was built in 1999 and currently totals 37,325 sq ft (3,467 sq m). It will be completely remodelled to include conversion of the ground floor car park to increase the building to 53,229 sq ft (4,945 sq m) to total three floors with a full triple-height glass entrance and atrium. Inside, there will be break-out areas, booth seating, skype booths, and hanging plants.
Along with stylish co-working space on the first floor, there will be 51 office suites which will range from 100 sq ft to 3,000 sq ft along with The Hive café with kitchen facilities, business lounge, meeting and exhibition space and a 150-seat conference space, cycle parking, shower and locker facilities and ample electric vehicle charging points. The bus stop will be moved to be outside the building so travel from Didcot will be easy and people will be able to benefit from the £20 per annum bus pass from any areas of Didcot.
Once completed, the Bee House is expected to provide capacity for circa 550 people.
The environmental credentials of the building, which will be rated BREEAM Excellent, will include a planting scheme with wildflowers and multi-stemmed trees and planting to attract bees and bench seating for outdoor meetings. The building will also be powered by a workspace app meaning that the space will be efficient to use both in terms of booking refreshments, rooms and space and controlling light and heating. Works have started and will be ready by February 2022.
The Bee House is part of Milton Park’s 2040 Vision, its pioneering masterplan for how the Park will sustainably grow to create 10,000 new high-value science and technology jobs and respond effectively to the climate emergency. It is in addition to Milton Park’s Innovation Centre which was launched in 2010 and has been successfully operated for the last six years by Ashdown Philips. The Innovation Centre has seen many companies successfully start in the building and fledge out onto the wider Park.
Philip Campbell, MEPC commercial director, Milton Park said: “The Bee House is about us continuing to support individuals and companies of all sizes who need a place to work that is well-connected, with plenty of amenities, surrounded by green spaces and part of a wider commercial ecosystem. By significantly refurbishing an outdated building, we are able to provide co-working memberships and small to medium office space with short term flexible licences for the offices. With our Innovation Centre as full as it can be and the way in which we all work changing, we are seeing strong demand from people looking for a new way to work.
"We have had enquiries from those wanting to work near their homes but not in their homes, only travel into London a few days a week, or from companies who are reviewing their office requirement post-pandemic, all wanting to be part of a great community that gives them modern and fresh space, a business network, great broadband and excellent coffee.
“The name for the Bee House derives from it being Milton Park’s spirit animal as a worker which thrives as part of a community and is important to the environment. Also, the discovery of the what3words square outside 140 Eastern Avenue being ///feasted.cloud.honeybees meant that along with our vision for the project, the Bee House is a great name for our new building and runs through the whole project.
“We can’t wait to welcome people to what will be Oxfordshire’s largest co-working space. It’s going to be buzzing!”