Cambridge shopping centre to become science, retail, and recreation hub

The Grafton Centre in Cambridge, England, is set for a major transformation after developer Pioneer Group secured planning permission for its regeneration plans.

UK property consultancy Bidwells played a key role in obtaining approval from the Cambridge City Council.

The outdated shopping center will be reborn as a vibrant hub featuring retail space, state-of-the-art laboratories for life science companies, and dedicated event space. Adding to the community feel, a new public square with trees, seating, and improved landscaping will be created at the heart of the development.

Existing buildings will be retrofitted for improved water and energy efficiency, contributing to a highly sustainable environment.

Jonathan Bainbridge, partner, Planning at Bidwells, said: ‘The Grafton Centre is a site of vast, as-of-yet unfulfilled potential, and this holistic regeneration project will see it transformed into a thriving commercial and retail hub. It has been a pleasure to work with Pioneer Group and the Cambridge City Council Planning Committee in getting this over the line.’

Richard O'Boyle, CEO of Pioneer Group, added: ‘The site, with sustainability incorporated into its fabric, will feature a range of first-class amenities which will complement the creation of skilled jobs that the new life sciences workspace will entail.’

The western end of the center, close to Burleigh and Fitzroy streets, will be revitalized to offer 10,500 m² of shopping area.

The central and eastern sections will be transformed into a dedicated life science zone, boasting 47,321 m² of lab and office space across five floors.

A new hotel and leisure center will be built on the eastern edge of the site, offering approximately 6,200 m² of space.

A new cycling lane/footpath and car park will ensure easy access and enhance the overall transportation infrastructure.

The project will revitalize the surrounding area, injecting an estimated £111.2 million into the local economy.

By repurposing existing buildings, the project achieves a +649% net increase in biodiversity and saves 18,500 tonnes of carbon.

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