Revival in UK commercial property driven by high tech enclaves such as Cambridge

Silicon FenAs we reported recently, it’s not just technology firms in London’s creaking digital enclaves that are driving recovery in the economy and commercial property markets. The UK is home to several hothouses of innovation and talent and the cluster of technology firms and related businesses in Cambridgeshire – inevitably Silicon Fen – are contributing to the highest level of commercial real estate activity in over six years, according to a survey we reported recently from property advisor Savills. The Cambridge arm of the firm is reporting that as well as new projects, schemes that were shelved during the recession are coming back online. Now in an interview in local magazine, Business Weekly, Savills has described how the national recovery is manifesting itself in one of the UK’s high tech hotspots.

Martin Mills, director of project and building consultancy at Savills Cambridge, said: “Cambridge has seen a gradual build up of commercial projects throughout the year with a slight hiccup mid January through funding issues. Currently the construction market is very busy and order books are filling for next year already. We have yet to see spec build activity as most schemes have pre lets, especially retail schemes. We are working on some exciting resurrected projects which were postponed in 2009, but now with a different mix of commercial types.”

Silicon Fen is home to a large cluster of high-tech businesses focusing on software, electronics and biotechnology. Many of the 1,500 to 3,500 businesses (depending on how they are defined) which make up this cluster are smaller business which have strong links to the local University, employ around 50,000 people and generate revenue of some £50 billion a year in an area that takes in Cambridge and local towns including  Newmarket, Saffron Walden, Ely, Royston and Huntingdon.