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Saviours of Discovery Park turn attention to North East

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The investors who turned around the fortunes of Discovery Park in Kent, after pharmaceutical giant Pfizer pulled out of the scheme in 2012, have swooped to buy a similarly troubled site in the North East.

Regeneration specialists Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave have bought the Fawdon pharmaceutical site in Newcastle from French global healthcare firm Sanofi, which has moved production overseas in a move that led to the loss of 450 jobs.

The 19.3-acre site comprises more than 400,000 sq ft of laboratory, manufacturing and office space, and will be redeveloped into a multi-tenanted science and technology park to be renamed Northumbria Park.

Sanofi ceased production operations at the plant in July this year having owned the site for more than 25 years.

At its peak the factory produced a billion tablets a year, which were largely targeted at heart patients and people suffering from epilepsy.

The new owners plan to refurbish and remodel the park to attract multiple science and technology tenants and create around 400 new jobs.

They have already agreed heads of terms with three occupiers to rent 150,000 sq ft of space and negotiations are ongoing with a further five parties.

The duo has been behind several regeneration projects including Discovery Park, which it owns in partnership with Palmer Capital, where it has signed up 100 companies and has plans for 1.3m sq ft of new commercial space as well as residential units and hotels.

It bought the 220-acre site, which was home to Pfizer’s research centre and famous for the development of Viagra, in 2012 after the pharmaceutical giant pulled out.

The duo’s portfolio includes Wynyard Park, also in the North East, as well as Stone Hill Park and Manston airport, both in Kent. Altogether the sites total around 2,800 acres and 3m sq ft of laboratory and office space.

“Northumbria Park gives us a chance to create a new science and technology park in Newcastle to complement the established incubator facilities by providing much-needed grow-on/scale-up capacity in the region,” Cartner said.

“We have several firm enquiries from science and pharmaceutical tenants already and are confident that we can fill the space very quickly.”

Musgrave added: “Our experience in running successful science parks means that we respect the site’s heritage and can create a thriving new science community.”

Author: Richard Williams, Property Week