Kier Construction has been awarded the contract to develop two new ‘grow-on’ buildings at Exeter Science Park and expects to start on site this summer.
The buildings, neighbouring the award-winning Science Park Centre and Eagle House, just off Junction 29 of the M5, will be the first new speculative office space to be built in Exeter since 2008.
The buildings will also benefit from the Enterprise Zone (EZ) status, which came into effect at the beginning of April. This will offer STEM businesses (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) relocating to Exeter Science Park up to £250,000 business rate relief over five years.
With funding from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, planning permission for the multimillion pound buildings was granted by East Devon District Council in July 2016, with Kier scheduled to start on site in June.
Dr. Sally Basker, CEO at Exeter Science Park said: “Even at this early stage, the Science Park is being recognised for its potential, due to its geographical location, transport links, world-renowned knowledge base, the existing business base across the region and the exciting tenants already in the Centre.
“We’re looking forward to working with Kier and are expecting significant demand for the new grow-on space, given early interest, the benefits of the Enterprise Zone as well as the lack of top quality accommodation in the region, the Park’s STEM focus, collaboration opportunities and the offer of bespoke workspace.
“Exeter is recognised as a thriving cluster within the UK’s digital landscape, as recently highlighted in the Tech Nation report, as well as being the number one city in the UK for quality of life, so it really is the ideal location for businesses to grow and enjoy life too.”
Companies in the grow-on buildings will typically be interested in accommodation from 1800 square feet for an individual unit, to 17,000 square feet for the larger building, although other packages are available across the park for smaller and larger requirements.
Brian Rice, Kier Operations Director Devon and Cornwall commented: “We are delighted to be starting on work on the next phase of the Exeter Science Park and the continued expansion is great news for Exeter. The strength in location, coupled with Enterprise Zone status, is a winning combination to encourage STEM organisations to relocate to the area”
The Science Park is home to a number of businesses in the science and technology sector, including IT software providers, infrastructure monitoring experts, renewable energy specialists, cybersecurity companies and software developers. The new buildings will continue to welcome leading businesses and organisations within STEM industries.
Steve Hindley CBE DL, Chair of the Heart of the South West (HotSW) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: “Exeter Science Park is at the heart of a growing cluster of businesses, some relocating from the London area, showing that HotSW is gaining ground as a desirable business location.
“The LEP is pleased that this Growth Deal project will start on site this summer, adding value to the already successful LEP-funded projects at the Science Park, which is one of the seven sites in the Heart of the South West Enterprise Zone package.”
Dr Basker added: “My vision is for the Science Park to become a ‘watering-hole’ where STEM-based companies across the region and beyond come to network, learn and to collaborate.”
The two-storey buildings have been designed by LHC Architecture + Urbanism, working for NPS South West Property Consultants. All aspects of the design and layout are completely adaptable so the building can be divided up in a variety of different configurations and can also accommodate specialist equipment and fit-outs. For those companies that sign up during the early stage of construction there is also the potential to influence the interior fit-out.
The building of the Science Park Centre has been made possible with shareholder equity from Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, Exeter City Council, the University of Exeter; the Heart of the South West LEP which committed £4.5m loan from the Growing Places Fund; and a £1 million grant from the Regional Growth Fund.