Construction work at Project Violet, the next stage of development at Sci-Tech Daresbury, has been completed, marking a landmark moment for world class high-tech business and leading-edge science in the North West.
Lead contractor Willmott Dixon has officially handed over the £17.8m development, which comprises 43,000 sq ft of speculative Grade A office and innovation space, coupled with the highest energy efficiency standards, for dynamic, forward-thinking science and technology focused businesses.
Violet encompasses two buildings (V2 and V3) providing 12,000 sq ft each and one building (V1) of 19,000 sq ft. Each building entails floor plates of around 4,300 to 6,300 sq ft and as part of the work, major landscaping improvements have been made around the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus.
The completion of the Project Violet development underlines the Sci-Tech Daresbury joint venture’s commitment to the future prosperity of the Liverpool City Region and wider North West through meeting the market demand for high-quality workspace for high growth science, technology and innovation-led businesses that are attracted to the area’s unrivalled ecosystem of private and public sector business support, academia and transport connectivity.
Despite the uncertainties brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, Sci-Tech Daresbury’s faith in its offer for high-growth science and technology businesses has been vindicated as final negotiations are taking place with a number of local and international companies regarding occupancy of the Violet buildings. Further announcements will be made in the coming weeks. Upon completion of negotiations with these companies, it is anticipated that three-quarters of the space within the Violet buildings will have been let, supporting the growth of businesses at Sci-Tech Daresbury as well as bringing further high-end science and technology focused companies into the Liverpool City Region.
Project Violet is expected to create or support 332 full-time equivalent jobs and is supported by £8.4m cornerstone funding from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, consisting of a £2.5m loan from the Urban Development Fund, together with £5.9m from the Combined Authority’s Chrysalis Fund, both funds being managed or advised by igloo Investment Management.
In December, planning approval was granted by Halton Borough Council for Ultraviolet, which is located next to Project Violet and forms the next phase of development within Sci-Tech Daresbury.
Ultraviolet will comprise a further 180,000 sq ft of Grade A office and laboratory space. The decision to pursue the further expansion of the world-class science facilities available at Sci-Tech Daresbury at this early stage reflects heightened demand from cutting-edge businesses requiring high-quality office and laboratory space in a collaborative community of 150 science and technology companies. These include the likes of IBM and Hitachi, co-located with the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory, part of UK Research and Innovation. This is also demonstrated by the interest created by the Violet project and the continued desirability of the campus, with over 30 new tenants joining during 2021.
John Downes, Chief Executive Officer of Langtree and Chairman of Sci-Tech Daresbury, said: “Project Violet reaching completion is yet another moment of real excitement at a time when our campus is truly going from strength to strength. Our ambitious plans for propelling science and technology forward in our region though investing in quality laboratory and office space have already been vindicated by the strong interest in Violet, and we look forward to sharing details of our first tenants in the coming weeks.
“Contracts were signed for the build programme of Project Violet in the summer of 2020, when the first few months of the pandemic had led many to believe that high-quality office and laboratory space would no longer be in demand in the years to come. This was not a view we shared, and the strong demand we’re experiencing for Violet vindicates that our unwavering faith in cutting-edge businesses in the North West has been more than vindicated.
“The work we’re currently undertaking will be pivotal in supporting science and technology in our region and beyond for decades to come – this is a truly exhilarating period for Sci-Tech Daresbury.”
Sci-Tech Daresbury’s success in recent years has been underpinned by its cluster approach, which sees like-minded businesses in sectors such as digital, advanced engineering, health and life sciences, and clean technology share knowledge and resources, resulting in enhanced productivity and innovation. In November 2021, the Daresbury Digital Tech Cluster – set to create 1,000 jobs – was officially launched on campus.
Additionally, STFC’s Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation (HNCDI) announced £172m funding from the government with an in-kind contribution of £38m from its strategic partner, IBM Research. This will be a key component of the UK’s advancement in the development and industrial application of key technologies such as data analytics, AI and quantum computing.
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Sci-Tech Daresbury is a thriving hub for science and technology in our region, playing host to many of the cutting-edge, innovative businesses that will help us to build a greener, smart and better-connected Liverpool City Region.
“We are only scratching the surface of our region’s potential to be at the vanguard of science and innovation in the UK. This latest expansion of the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus means that we can continue to attract world-leading businesses to our region, delivering hundreds of high-quality, high-value jobs that fuel our ambitions to be global innovators”
Halton Borough Council Leader, Cllr Mike Wharton, says: “This is another major milestone in the continuous development of Sci-Tech Daresbury.
“Project Violet, which is expected to create hundreds of jobs, provides quality office and innovation space to meet the growing demand from businesses, and is a place where they will receive the support they need to thrive and grow. There has been a lot of interest in this accommodation, and plans are already underway for the next phase of development on the site, which is great news.”
Paul Vernon, Head of STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, said: “This is an exciting milestone for Sci-Tech Daresbury, as it continues to support the growing demand from businesses from across the region. Access to STFC’s world class science and technology facilities here on campus enables these businesses to innovate and drive-up productivity, growth and job creation, to the benefit of our economy across the North West and beyond.”
The development is funded using the Enterprise Zone retained business rates and investment from the Sci-Tech Daresbury joint-venture. Cornerstone funding is provided by the Chrysalis Fund and the LCR Urban Development Fund, which funds development, regeneration, and sustainability projects in the Liverpool City Region, supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the 2014-2020 England Operational Programme.
Designed by Seven Architecture, the new complex is situated at the gateway of the campus next to Keckwick Lane and Innovation Way.