Harwell: Science campus to grow significantly as Brookfield buys in

Brookfield is set to buy U+I’s stake in the renowned Harwell Science Campus in Oxfordshire – which includes massive development proposals at the 700-acre site – for around £240 million.

The group is understood to have seen off bidding from Goldman Sachs and ICHQ for the 700-acre flagship campus.

Eastdil Secured has been advising Harwell Oxford Developments, a joint venture between Harwell Oxford Partners and U+I, on Project Diamond, a recapitalisation of the HSIC JV, looking to introduce a long term partner to deliver the Campus’s next phase of growth.

Covering approximately 700 acres, Harwell Campus, and the HSIC JV, has been pursing plans for millions of sq ft of new working and research space and hundreds of new homes, plus further on-site amenities.

Under the current structure of Harwell Oxford Developments’ relationship with the Government freeholder, an agreement has been reached whereby land for development is available on an incentivised basis across the Campus. The sale is for U+I’s 50% stake in this agreement.

Announcing the sale plans last year U+I said: “We believe the real estate market for science and research led facilities is strong, with occupational demand for space high. Having delivered over 500,000 sq ft of new space over the last five years, we believe that an additional capital partner is required to drive the next phase of growth. We commenced Phase 1 of a marketing campaign to secure this partner in November 2019, with a view to entering into a recapitalisation of the joint venture this financial year, subject to terms and pricing. The potential transaction does not change our future guidance for either development and trading gains or the investment portfolio.”

In the near term approvals has been granted and construction is to commence imminently on seven developments comprising over 845,000 sq ft of new office and industrial space to be delivered by 2023.

Approximately 15% of committed space has been pre-let prior to construction start with significant demand for remaining space. Longer-term the masterplan encompasses 5m sq ft of new developments.

Beyond the combination of office and industrial buildings, Harwell will be developed as a town with 1,000 homes and another hotel on site. The Campus will host 15,000 people in less than 10 years.

Savills is advising Brookfield. Eastdil is advising U+I. All parties declined to comment or were unavailable for comment.

Source: CoStar