27-acre Cardiff life science park sold to specialist investor
Cardiff Edge has been sold by Garrison Barclay Estates
JLL has advised Garrison Barclay Estates on the freehold sale of Cardiff Edge, in one of the largest investment deals in Wales this year. The 27-acre life science park is located at Junction 32 of the M4 Motorway, to the north of Cardiff City Centre.
Harrison Street and Trinity Investment Management have acquired the Cardiff life sciences hub, in addition to their recent acquisition BioCity Group to create a £450m platform, rapidly expanding their UK life sciences portfolio. The assets will be folded into Harrison Street and Trinity’s existing life sciences business to create We Are Pioneer Group. The new company will manage nine assets spanning 2.6m sq ft and 500 occupiers, including Cardiff Edge.
We Are Pioneer Group will become the first nationwide business to combine education, investment and business support with the development and asset management of lab space, which is greatly under-supplied in the UK.
Cardiff Edge comprises high-quality life sciences, R&D and office space totaling 180,000 sq ft of space across seven buildings, on a secure campus, which are 98% let. The existing life science occupiers clustered at the park include Cytiva and Defra, with a significant laboratory pre-let under offer. Expansion land is also available for further development of up to 458,000 sq ft.
Justin Millett, lead director of JLL’s Cardiff office, said: “We were delighted to advise Garrison Barclay Estates alongside JLL’s market leading life science team. Our client has created a strategically important and vibrant life science cluster at Cardiff Edge and is now handing over to a leading investor-developer in the sector, with an unrivalled regional platform and unique business model. Our team is looking forward to supporting We Are Pioneer Group with the continued evolution and development of Cardiff Edge.”
According to JLL the life sciences sector in Wales is both fast-growing and innovative. It employs nearly 17,000 people across 285 organisations with an annual turnover of £2bn.
Nationally JLL has estimated that there is up to £15bn of investor capital allocated to UK life sciences real estate, of which less than 10% has been deployed to date. The UK’s life sciences sector has grown to become a standalone real estate asset class and has seen a significant increase in the volume of real estate transactions in the last three years. The wall of capital currently targeting the sector is from a broad spectrum of domestic and international institutional investors keen to access the burgeoning area that is underpinned by strong fundamentals.
Jennie Howells, head of property at Garrison Barclay Estatest, commented: “We have worked closely with occupiers including Cytiva and Defra to grow Cardiff Edge and we’ve had strong engagement from Cardiff Capital Region on future development of the park. We’re very pleased to have found a purchaser that shares our vision to grow and fully develop this strategically important site. We Are Pioneer Group have undoubted expertise, together with the ability to support and invest in the occupiers, which makes them excellent custodians moving forward. The sale is part of a strategy to release capital for further investment and we are actively seeking other opportunities.”
Richard O’Boyle, executive director at We Are Pioneer Group, said: “The mission-critical UK Science and innovation industry sector are significant contributors to the UK economy, but is a nascent sector. Through an integrated approach of investment, venture development and real-estate, We Are Pioneer Group creates a new nationwide innovation ecosystem in which businesses can scale and grow. Cardiff Edge will be a key location for WAPG, from where we will build meaningful links to the academics, governments, councils, researchers, and pharmaceutical firms that are critical for success."
Garrison Barclay Estates was represented by Le Gros Solicitors Limited led by Claudia Le Gros and the purchaser was represented by DLA Piper led by Thomas Gatenby.
JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. JLL shapes the future of real estate for a better world by using the most advanced technology to create rewarding opportunities, amazing spaces and sustainable real estate solutions for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $16.6 billion, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 91,000 as of December 31, 2020. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit jll.com.