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Will Canary Wharf Groups plans for a sky-high lab help investors weather the recession?

Canary Wharf Group and Kadans have recently agreed a joint venture to develop Europe’s largest commercial lab, a 22 storey, 750,000 sq ft scheme on the Canary Wharf Group North Quay site.

Shobi Khan the chief executive of Canary Wharf Group, told the estates gazette “If the UK is going to be a science superpower, London’s going to need to have a critical mass of life sciences space, and we think this building and the North Quay Campus can be the start of that. This fits the government’s vision of being able to create a great ecosystem that will compete with some of these other word-class cities”.

According to Kadans, London has just 300,000 sqft of commercial lab space available. ‘’It means that London is losing out and companies are leaving,” said James Shepherd, head of commercial for the UK and Ireland at Kadans.

The joint venture will bring academics, businesses and clinicians together under one roof in a new innovation district. Furthermore, it aims for the life sciences sector to see Canary Wharf as “a city within the city”, offering not just the workspace but also transport links to both Heathrow and City airports, housing for scientists, researchers and key workers, as well as leisure activities.

The development is expected to break ground late this year or early next year.

“An overarching ambition is creating a new science and innovation district for London” said Sheppard. “We can provide continuous growth and home for these companies forever – not just a temporary home until they get on a plane to Boston.”

I believe this ambitious plan will diversify Canary Wharf’s appeal to the life science industry whilst maintaining the existing financial and business services occupiers. Ultimately, it will also help protect property investors from the ebbs and flows of the market long term.