Labs and film studios drive investment in Thames Valley property market

24th April 2024

With 69% of corporate occupiers in London and the Southeast completing on Grade A standard space in 2023, the preference for smaller, high-quality space is continuing. ESG credentials and modern facilities are top of the list of requirements, with larger older buildings holding less appeal for some.

But not everyone has the same requirements. Several sectors are booming in the Thames Valley region and savvy property owners are repurposing their space to make the most of the opportunity.

The ‘golden triangle’ of science, technology and innovation in the Southeast continues to grow rapidly, with demand for lab space in the life sciences sector continuing to outstrip supply. New spaces already confirmed in the region in 2024 include a 400,000 sq ft lab and office redevelopment at Thames Valley Park for biopharmaceutical group, Lonza and a state-of-the-art forensic centre for Thames Valley Police.

Larger buildings make ideal spaces for these types of businesses and the same can be said for another fast-growing sector, film and media. Several studios, including Shinfield, Winnersh, and Arborfield, have been created in and around the Reading area in the past few years. Enticed by great transport links, proximity to London and Heathrow, and the region’s skilled workforce, studios have also found a ready supply of the expansive spaces they need to produce films and high end tv productions.

How will the current property market affect me?

Demand and competition are high which makes for an improved market all round. Those looking for smaller spaces are likely to find upgraded facilities and experience benefits of working in shared buildings such as networking and a community atmosphere.

Forward thinking developers are already marketing their properties and developments to these growing sectors as well as the wider ecosystem such as post-production offices or AI innovators. Those with strategic land will also be considering the opportunities these growth sectors might bring.

With a shortage of lab space, rents in some areas doubled between 2021 and 2023 and this trend may continue until demand and supply are more evenly matched. There is now more confidence in borrowing as interest rates soften, which will again lead to more movement and investment in the region.

What else should I be thinking about?

If you’re a tenant or potential owner occupier looking for new premises, start the process sooner rather than later to make sure you secure the space you want. Many landlords and developers are keen to start negotiations at an early stage and you may also be able to secure more favourable terms as a result.

For landlords or developers, interest is high but making your property as appealing as possible will keep you one step ahead of the competition. Consider who you are marketing to and what specification, facilities and finish might be expected.

For any property matter, getting a lawyer involved at an early stage will allow the transaction to complete as smoothly as possible, with any issues ironed out along the way. From negotiating terms for a sale or let to drawing up paperwork to secure investment for your development, the real estate team at HCR works tirelessly to get your transaction over the line.

Regularly acting for a range of property clients from landlords and tenants to developers, investors, and lenders, I provide straight forward, commercial advice to achieve your objectives. I have a wide network of property professionals including agents, management companies and specialist property finance advisors who I can draw upon to support throughout the transaction.

Current opportunities for the property market in the Thames Valley are exciting and, whatever your situation, you’ll want us on your side.