Bidwells secure planning permission for Cambridge Grafton Centre’s lab and leisure regeneration on behalf of Pioneer Group


Image of Grafton

Bidwells has secured planning permission on behalf of Pioneer Group to transform the Grafton Centre, Cambridge, into a destination offering retail, lab, and event space.


Property consultancy Bidwells has successfully secured planning permission on behalf of developer Pioneer Group for the regeneration of the Grafton Centre in Cambridge. Upon completion, the scheme will see the transformation of the in-decline retail centre into a new, sustainable mixed-use destination featuring retail, lab, and event space.

The regeneration is expected to deliver several public benefits including the provision of approx. 2,652 jobs (1,944 skilled, 707 unskilled), a highly sustainable environment with retrofitting of existing building infrastructure to implement better water and energy efficiency, a hotel and leisure centre, and a cycling lane/footpath and car park. The regeneration will also see the creation of a new public square with trees, seating, and improved public space.

An enhanced shopping environment will be created at the west end of the centre, by the Burleigh and Fitzroy streets. The life sciences focused space will occupy the central and eastern area of the existing the Grafton Centre, and will encompass around 47,321 sqm gross internal area of floor space across five floors with a basement level below and a rooftop plant area above. The layout will also consist of a mix of lab and write up spaces. The retail area will entail 10,500 sqm GIA of space, while at the eastern edge of the site adjacent to East Road a new hotel and leisure centre will occupy around 6,200 sqm of GIA collectively.

Jonathan Bainbridge, Partner, Planning at Bidwells, said:

“We are very pleased to have played a part in facilitating a scheme that will offer significant public realm improvements while tapping into the strong demand for life sciences workspace in Cambridge. 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, Chief Executive of Pioneer Group, said:

“We’d like to thank Cambridge City Council for its recognition that the proposed regeneration of the Grafton Centre will deliver significant commercial and public benefits to the local community. 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.”



Jonathan Bainbridge

Partner, Planning

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Jonathan Bainbridge

Partner, Planning

Jonathan leads our London planning team, focussing on technology clusters, large-scale residential, council headquarters and higher education – it’s an eclectic CV.

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