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Arguments over drug pricing and US involvement in the NHS after Brexit might have captured the headlines during the election. But behind the controversy, the UK’s pharmaceutical industry is pressing ahead with a major investment programme in new buildings which is making it an increasingly significant client for the construction sector.

Capital expenditure by UK pharmaceutical manufacturers was worth over one billion in 2017 and the potential for construction work for the sector has prompted some contractors to form specialist divisions focused on its needs. ISG, for example, has wide experience in the construction of laboratories and has a team dedicated to the life sciences and pharmaceutical sector. In Ireland, John Sisk has set up a dedicated pharma division, having built facilities for the industry worth over 1.5 billion euros since 2000.

Flagship development

Today, construction work is progressing on the pharmaceutical industry’s flagship new development, Astrazeneca’s new £600 million R&D biomedical campus HQ in Cambridge, where Mace is the main contractor and work is set for completion at the end of next year (Glenigan Project ID: 13094658). 

Meanwhile, plans have been submitted for the construction of a £46.4 million R&D enabling building alongside Astrazeneca’s new campus. This will involve a new 13,200 sqm building together with an amenities hub. Work on the New Cambridge Center Phase 1B is due to start next summer and continue for 18 months (Glenigan Project ID: 19279889). 

Astrazeneca is also undertaking other new building developments around the country. In Cheshire, the company has recently submitted plans for a new £9.9 million pharmaceutical manufacturing facility at its site in Macclesfield. The scheme, which is at the pre-tender stage, will involve some 8,890 sq m of new industrial space with construction work set to start next summer and continue for eight months (Glenigan Project ID: 19350770).

Elsewhere in Cambridge, detailed plans have been granted and a contract awarded for a £5.83 million extension to an industrial building for Bard Pharmaceuticals on Cambridge Science Park. Lendlease is the design & build contractor on the scheme (Glenigan Project ID: 12391243).

New R&D space

Other companies in the sector are also investing in the construction of new R & D space. In Deeside in north Wales, Quay Pharmaceuticals has recently had detailed plans granted for a £4.9 million research centre extension at its Parkway site involving offices and warehouse space. Hughes Architectural is the project manager on the 1,960 sq m scheme where work is set to start late this summer and continue for eight months (Glenigan Project ID: 18026609).

Meanwhile at Newry in Northern Ireland, detailed plans have been granted for a £1.7 million pharmaceutical company extension to Norbrook Laboratories Station where work is due to start this summer (Glenigan Project ID: 19151480).

Smaller companies in the sector are also involved in new building projects. In Nottingham, work has started on a £2.3 million capacity expansion at Albumedix with a four storey extension to house additional plant and machinery (Glenigan Project ID: 18359558)

Meanwhile in Salisbury, Porton Biopharma is reconfiguring its manufacturing facility in a £1 million project where work is set to start this summer (Glenigan Project ID: 19207867).