Life Sciences

Lonza confirms acquisition of Thames Valley Park site for vast new lab campus

Biopharmaceuticals group Lonza has confirmed its acquisition of the former British Gas site at Thames Valley Park for a massive new lab and office development.

After months of speculation about the purchase, the Swiss-owned firm, currently based at a 210,000 sq ft site in Bath Road, Slough, has confirmed the deal which could lead to one of the biggest developments in the Thames Valley for years. The 12-acre site is expected to be redeveloped for a lab and office scheme of around 400,000 sq ft.

In a statement to Thames Tap, the company said: “Lonza has purchased a plot in Thames Valley Park near Reading (UK). This acquisition provides us with additional development opportunities as our business continues to grow. We are looking forward to working closely with the relevant stakeholders as we develop our plans.”

Nigel Horton-Baker, chief executive at REDA, Reading’s Economy and Destination Agency, said: “It is obviously early days, but this is excellent news for the Reading economy as it demonstrates Reading’s potential for growing the laboratory sector here and the critical place we play in the UK pharma economy which stretches beyond the Oxford/Cambridge axis.

“Reading is already a major player in the UK pharma market with businesses such as Bayer and Sanofi based here. The Lonza development will bring manufacturing, lab and office jobs to Reading across a 400,000 sq ft site and REDA looks forward to helping Lonza integrate into the local business community, assisting them with recruitment locally and supporting their local community settle into Reading.”

Jonathan Mannings, founder and managing director of Thames Valley commercial property specialists Rare, said: “This is an extremely important deal for the Thames Valley.

“In a year that has been distinguished by its lack of take up, it’s very good news to see a deal of this size finally completing.

“We have been expecting it to happen for some time but to see it finally over the line is tremendous news. It reaffirms the Thames Valley’s position as one of the most influential markets in the UK and underlines Reading’s position in the hierarchy of towns.

“Although Lonza’s move will be to a hybrid building, comprising offices and laboratory space, it is inevitable that, over the forthcoming months and years, we will see an evolution in the market – we have witnessed massive take up in film studio space, particularly with the development of Shinfield Studios and the significant studios at Winnersh Triangle and the expansion of Pinewood and Shepperton.

“What is really encouraging is that technology and life sciences continue to choose to locate to, or to remain in, the region when expanding and this bodes extremely well for the continued success of the region”