Savills IM secures planning permission and commences development of a ‘net zero carbon ready’ industrial led development in Cambridgeshire

28 June 2021

Savills Investment Management (“Savills IM”), the international real estate investment manager, has secured planning permission from South Cambridgeshire District Council and placed a building contract with Readie Construction Ltd to commence a net zero carbon ready industrial development known as Bourn Quarter on the outskirts of Cambridge.

The brownfield site totals 25 acres and is part of a former airfield. Savills IM purchased the site on behalf of a discretionary pension fund client in January 2018 and has been working with Aitchison Developments as Development Manager in promoting the site for development.

The planning consent secured is for a phased industrial development of c. 260,000 sq ft warehouse, production, storage and distribution business park. The scheme has a flexible configuration to suit a broad range of occupiers with the ability to increase office content and create lab and R&D space and is set in a business park environment. Phase 1 comprising 160,000 sq ft commenced works on site in May 2021 with practical completion targeted for March 2022. A pre-let has been signed with Cambridge Design Partnership for a 56,000 sq ft unit within the first phase of the development for a new headquarters building. Cambridge Design Partnership are a leading technology and product design partner specialising in the healthcare, consumer, energy and industrial equipment markets.

In line with the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) Net Zero Carbon Buildings: A Framework Definition, the base build has been designed to be net zero carbon focusing on the whole-lifecycle of the development. During concept design, carbon savings of c. 20% were identified through the use of materials with high recyclable content to reduce the embodied carbon being used in the development.  The development will be all electric with an array of roof mounted solar PV panels providing renewable energy across the project.

All of the units at Bourn Quarter will seek to perform beyond the targets outlined in the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge document. These targets take into account the latest recommendations from the Green Construction Board, and have been developed by the RIBA in consultation with other UK professional bodies. They act as guidance to ensure the construction industry has delivered the significant reductions needed by 2030 in order to have a realistic prospect of achieving net zero carbon for the whole UK building stock by 2050. 

Each unit at Bourn quarter is predicted to be considerably better than the 2030 target of 500 kgCO2e/m2.  In line with the UKGBC net zero reporting requirements, the project will disclose its total embodied carbon emissions at the end of the project. The intention is to engage with the end-users to promote the buildings to become operationally net zero carbon.

Savills IM and Aitchison Developments are targeting BREEAM Excellent, EPC A and have followed the principles of the Well Building Standard in designing the project. The buildings will promote the health and well-being of its occupiers.  The park will feature over four acres of accessible green space and amenity areas, with a running track and links to the local footpath network and will also provide several outdoor fitness facilities including gym equipment. 

Jo Buckley, Assistant Portfolio Manager, Savills Investment Management, commented:

Bourn Quarter is an exciting development where we have been keen to promote a net zero carbon strategy with health and wellbeing at its heart and to create a business park that will appeal to a broad range of end users. The project sits within the government-designated Oxford-Cambridge innovation arc, a major centre for the UK’s hi-tech manufacturing and research industries creating a strategic location for innovation. We are delighted to welcome Cambridge Design Partnership who have chosen the business park for their new headquarters.

Emily Hamilton, Head of ESG, Savills Investment Management, added: 

This development will epitomise what modern, sustainable real estate should be, meeting the needs of all its stakeholders. Environmentally friendly features will be fully integrated into the very fabric of this project, and it will create an inspirational space for workers. Cutting energy costs and raising productivity levels exemplifies how sustainability can improve profitability for tenants as well as investment returns.


Alastair Mant, Director of Business Transformation, UKGBC, commented: 

UKGBC is delighted that Savills IM, a UKGBC Gold Leaf member, is demonstrating industry leadership by committing to develop this significant new development in line with the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Framework Definition, for both embodied and operational carbon. It is a significant step to take a whole-life carbon approach and I hope we shall soon see many other owners of built assets setting similar ambitions.


Citigate Dewe Rogerson

Alex Hogan

+44 (0)20 7025 6400

Buildings are highly flexible to appeal to a broad range of occupiers including life science, hi-tech, R & D, logistics and distribution as well as being optimised for energy efficiency with high sustainability credentials.