Firm says its Regent’s Place and Canada Water campuses targeting burgeoning sector

Developer British Land has said it is targeting tenants from the life sciences sector and moving into the logistics market as it looks to new areas of business to plot a recovery from the covid-19 pandemic.

The firm is best known for being behind a swathe of high-profile office buildings in the City in recent years including Sir Robert McAlpine’s recently completed 100 Liverpool Street scheme at Broadgate as well as its Cheesegrater tower, built by Laing O’Rourke, and which it sold four years ago to a Chinese firm for more than £1bn.


British Land said Skanska’s Norton Folgate scheme is due to finish by autumn 2023

It is also behind a series of so-called campuses – mixed-use hubs – across London including sites at Paddington, Broadgate and Euston as well as a huge mixed-use scheme at Canada Water.

But the firm, which earlier this year got the green light for a 37-storey office block at 2-3 Finsbury Avenue set to be built by McAlpine, said it has begun moving into new sectors after the pandemic cut the value of its portfolio by nearly 11% in the year to March while only 71% of its expected rent in the retail sector was collected during the period.

British Land said its campuses now account for nearly 90% of its offices portfolio and added: “As the nature of demand changes, we are well placed to target successful businesses in innovative growth sectors as we have done successfully at Broadgate. One clear opportunity is in life sciences at Regent’s Place, benefiting from its location in the Knowledge Quarter.”

The Knowledge Quarter, the area around King’s Cross, the Euston Road and Bloomsbury and which is home to the Wellcome Trust and the Francis Crick Institute, is being predicted to be the capital’s future hub for the life sciences industry.

New chief executive Simon Carter, who took over from long-running boss Chris Grigg late last year, added: “At Canada Water our planning permission is deliberately flexible, enabling us to deliver a range of uses aligned to growth and long-term trends.”

He said these included life sciences, healthcare, senior living and higher education with TEDI-London, a partnership between King’s College London, Arizona State University and UNSW Sydney, signing up to move into a new campus at the site.

British Land said enabling works at Canada Water had begun with main construction work starting on the first three buildings later this year after it and Homes England agreed a deal which will see the government’s housing agency provide a £100m loan for infrastructure works. Wates, Mace and McAleer & Rushe have all been lined up for the first deals at the £3.3bn development.

The firm has also bought its first logistics warehouse, a 216,000 sq ft warehouse in Enfield which it said it can expand.

It added that it has splashed out £197m on retail parks, including the A1 Retail Park in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, with these now accounting for more than half of its retail portfolio.

It said: “These are increasingly preferred by retailers, because they are affordable and support an online offer by facilitating click and collect, returns and ship from store. They are also preferred by business which are more online resilient, including discount food and homeware retailers.”

British Land said its £350m Norton Folgate mixed-use scheme next to Shoreditch, which Skanska started on last year, is due to complete by the third quarter of 2023 although it gave no date when the tower at 2-3 Finsbury Avenue would begin. McAlpine’s £330m 1 Broadgate scheme, it added, is due to finish by the middle of 2025.