Oxford and Reef selected to develop new London Bridge life sciences hub

Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation selects partnership between Oxford Properties and Reef to develop Snowsfields Quarter in SE1.

April 29, 2022


Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation (the Foundation) has selected Oxford Properties (‘Oxford’), a leading global real estate investor and developer, and Reef Group (‘Reef’) as its preferred development partner for the delivery of the Snowsfields Quarter site in central London. Oxford and Reef will invest approximately £350 million to create a 300,000 sq ft life sciences hub with world-class lab facilities across three new buildings in a prime health innovation cluster.

The 0.88 acre site sits adjacent to the Guy’s campus in SE1, which hosts world-class medical and research institutions including King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust. These, together with the Foundation and local authority partners, form a central part of an emerging partnership, SC1, which aims to create a new health innovation cluster in the capital.

The sale of a long-term leasehold of the site to Oxford will complete subject to achieving planning permission for the project. The envisioned project will play a central role in creating the required, and highly technical, real estate infrastructure to support the emergence of the SC1 innovation cluster. It will add meaningful new supply of lab facilities in London Bridge, a market that suffers from an acute lack of commercial R&D space and provide a home for the successful ventures that emanate from the area’s world-renowned research hospitals and institutions.

Kieron Boyle, CEO at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation, said: “We had a fantastic level of interest in Snowsfields Quarter and our long-term vision to contribute to the growing life sciences cluster in our central London home. As an investor with a mission to build the foundations of a healthier society, we believe we have found like-minded partners in Oxford and Reef. Their approach and proposals chime with our ambitions to create innovative spaces that support life-enhancing medical advances which improve lives locally and beyond.”

The Foundation is a charitable organisation with an endowment worth nearly £1 billion in assets including land and property, and a mission to support greater health for all. The organisation works closely with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust but it is independent from it. Snowsfields Quarter will be the Foundation’s second life sciences-led scheme in the area, with the nearby Royal Street site under development with partners Stanhope and Baupost Group.

Abby Shapiro, Head of Life Sciences, Europe at Oxford Properties, commented: “We’re extremely proud to have been selected by Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation to turn Snowsfields Quarter into a world-class life science innovation and growth hub. Life sciences is one of our conviction asset classes and we will draw on all the expertise of our global business to create a project that offers solutions to firms at all stages of scientific discovery and production by providing institutional grade infrastructure, service and amenities that attract and allows the best and brightest talent to bring life-changing therapeutics to market.

“Snowsfields Quarter is in the heart of a life science cluster that features a global top ten research university in King’s College London, the leading clinical trials of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust as well as the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult. Our plans will help strengthen this already significant ecosystem and, by delivering high-quality commercially available lab space, help ensure that the London Bridge cluster can retain and grow the successful ventures that emanate from these institutions which would have previously had to relocate to other parts of London or out of the city altogether.”

Active in the space since 2017, Oxford’s global life science business has grown across the leading 10 North American life science markets, the UK and continental Europe and includes R&D labs and GMP facilities. Since the start of 2021, as part of its target to build a leading US$15 billion life science business, Oxford has completed approximately US$2.5 billion of life sciences investment and with a further US$3.5 billion of follow-on development opportunities.

Stewart Deering, Chief Executive at Reef Group, said: “We are honoured to have been selected in partnership with Oxford Properties to deliver what we believe will be a globally iconic development at Snowsfields, a key part of the SC1 Innovation District. Snowsfields will be a multi-use, flexible and dynamic scheme, with wellbeing, amenity, collaboration and innovation at its heart. The development provides an exciting opportunity to create state of the art facilities that will offer space for the fast-growing and dynamic life sciences sector, now and in the future. Our focus is to create vibrant places in urban areas for life sciences operators to ensure that these exciting and dynamic ecosystems can flourish and grow, whilst enhancing and contributing to local communities.

“The proposals will sensitively integrate with and make a positive contribution to the local community, prioritising health, wellbeing and social impact, including a series of spaces that will directly connect the community with science. We believe that combined with the Foundation’s global reputation and Oxford’s global expertise we will create a truly special place at Snowsfields.”

Oxford Properties and Reef will work with a design team including UrbanR, Perkins and Will and DSDHA to draw up plans for the site, with a planning application due to be submitted to Southwark Council in due course following engagement with stakeholders.

Savills acted on behalf of Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation. The bidding process was highly competitive, with a high level of strong bids and shortlisted parties including Stanhope & Cadillac Fairview, Nuveen, Biomed & Blackstone and Breakthrough Properties.