LEGAL FINANCE: New Research Centre Marks Milestone for City's Nigel

Article excerpt

The decision by planners to give outline permission for a world-class biomedical research centre on the outskirts of Cambridge, marks a five year milestone for Birmingham-based real estate lawyer Nigel Watkins.

Cambridge Biomedical Campus is to be constructed on 70 acres of land next to the internationally-renowned Addenbrooke's Hospital, a teaching hospital and part of Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

It will incorporate a new 270,000 sq ft laboratory of molecular biology to be built by the Medical Research Council as a replacement for the existing 45 year-old facility, and for which detailed permission has also been resolved.

When fully developed the site will create up to 8,250 jobs in a dynamic growth sector, said Mr Watkins.

As a partner in the Midlands office of international law firm Reed Smith Richards Butler, he has acted for the joint developers - Countryside Properties and Liberty Property Trust - from the scheme's inception in 2002.

In the years that followed he worked on the "incredibly complex" option document relating to the acquisition of the site, near the village of Trumpington, close to Junction 11 on the M11.

Mr Watkins said: "Liberty are a REIT (real estate investment trust) based in Philadelphia.

One of the reasons they became involved is the depth of their experience of this kind of development in the US.

"For Reed Smith Richards Butler one of our key industry sectors internationally is in servicing the life sciences industry, particularly companies that are involved in biomedical research."

Although the planners have given the green light in principle, the details of the scheme still have to be finalised and a start on site is not anticipated until mid 2008, said Mr Watkins, who worked on the scheme with planning partner Lesley Webber and other members of the Reed Smith Richards Butler team. …