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Oxfordshire: Technology to be key driver for commercial property in 2016, says VSL & Partners

By Dan Teuton
5 February 2016

The commercial property market in Oxfordshire is on a new wave of technology and innovation-led growth, according to Richard Venables, a director at commercial property consultants VSL & Partners.

VSL reports that continued demand within the technology and innovation sector is shown by the volume of transactions for 2015 amounting to approximately 40% of take-up or 200,000 sq ft of commercial space. 

Venables explained: “Despite the continuing fall in supply and limited pipeline development in both the industrial and office markets, development activity is now focusing on the technology and innovation sector with developments such as the newly-announced £90 million Oxford Technology Park at Kidlington.”

VSL has been appointed to market the 20-acre park, on behalf of Hill Street Holdings, which will create 430,000 sq ft of development space of bespoke accommodation for high-tech and research and development organisations. 

Venables said: “The site is expected to attract pharmaceutical, biotech and high-performance engineering firms that want to enhance their research and development and production capability, in a format where they can have total freedom on how their space is configured.

“While inward growth is predicated on the commercialisation of high-tech products, growth in this sector has spin-offs for other businesses, so it’s good news for the overall economy.”

Other initiatives set to benefit high-tech companies include the Science Vale UK Enterprise Zones at Harwell and Milton Park as well as Didcot Enterprise Zone, which was launched in 2015. Businesses within these zones will benefit from business rates concessions for five years in addition to simplified planning legislation.

Meanwhile, another range of initiatives is set to further strengthen growth.  This includes Oxford’s bid for the European Capital for Innovation for 2016, where Oxford is one of nine cities in Europe invited to tender for this title and the proposals to redevelop Oxford’s West End into a new quarter of the city.

Venables added: “Oxfordshire is home to some of the newest and fastest-growing businesses in high-performance engineering, biotechnology and medical instruments; and these positive steps for growth in this sector provide the opportunity to unlock the region’s full potential. 

“We are working in an optimistic era driven by greater co-ordination with public and private-sector commitment to growth and with new working collaborations between the city and county councils, the University of Oxford, Brookes University and the Oxford Local Enterprise Partnership. One of the ambitions of this collaboration is to create the conditions that make Oxford and Oxfordshire the location of choice for the world’s leading science and technology businesses.” 

In the past few months, VSL has completed deals at Oxford Industrial Park to oilfield service company Baker Hughes and Oxford University spin-out company First Light Fusion.  Acting on behalf of another of the University’s spin-out company’s Genomics, VSL agreed a 9,000 sq ft letting at King Charles House in Oxford City Centre. This recent activity further underpins the current momentum of emerging growth within this sector.