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Welcome to our dedicated consultation website for proposals by Breakthrough Properties to redevelop the Vitrum Building in St John’s Innovation Park into high-quality, wellbeing-led laboratories and workspaces.


The Cambridgeshire economy is tailored towards life sciences, but there is a shortage of floorspace needed to match the demand and for sustainable growth. Furthermore, this demand also requires high-quality, wellbeing-led labs and workspaces too. Our exciting proposals aim to maximise the potential of this underutilised site, delivering these much-needed laboratories and workspaces in a building with leading sustainability credentials.



Our project team


To assist with the delivery of the proposals, Breakthrough Properties are working with the following expert project team:



Breakthrough Properties is a life science real estate development company, formed in 2019, that delivers environments that foster innovation and scientific breakthroughs. Its mission is to acquire, develop, and operate the best life science properties in leading scientific and innovation centres around the world and support research and development.

Henning Larsen are a leading Danish architecture, landscape architecture, urbanism and interior graphic, and lighting design studio. Founded in 1959, their design philosophy is centred around light and nature, always looking to the lasting impact of communities and their environment.

Feilden+Mawson have established reputations for delivering buildings designed with skill and sensitivity, combined with the highest standards. Having been founded in 1956, they work with clients who value thoughtful design and see their relationships with their clients as vital to their success.

Sphere25 deliver development through insightful planning advice. Their experienced team advises on planning strategies, submissions, and negotiations to secure planning permission.

Velocity Transport Planning is a specialist transport planning consultancy serving both public and private sector property development clients. They recognise that the relationships they form with clients and co-professionals underpins the success they have had over the last 40 years.

Buro Happold are a world-class practice of engineers, consultants and advisers. Through integrated thinking and an interconnected community of passionate experts, they create transformative outcomes for their clients and communities alike. During their 45 years of experience, they have built an extraordinary reputation for delivering creative, value-led solutions for their clients.

Townshend Landscape Architects specialise in landscape architecture since 1988. They believe in quality of life and quality of built environment are intrinsically linked and seek to re-imagine public spaces that integrate with their surroundings and are at the centre of local communities

Kanda are specialists in working with community organisations, residents, and businesses to ensure they have the opportunity to provide meaningful feedback on development proposals. They will be facilitating all community and stakeholder consultation.

Thornton Tomasetti are structural engineers who apply scientific and engineering principles to solve the world’s challenges. Whether they’re focusing on the design, construction and performance of buildings or expanding into new disciplines, they never limit themselves, applying their expertise to all types of projects across a range of industries.


The existing site


The existing site is located in the north-east corner of the St John’s Innovation Park, part of the North Cambridge Research & Development Cluster, in north-east Cambridge.

The current building is failing to maximise its potential and meet the wellbeing-led needs of modern office tenants. It does not have the facilities and high-quality lab spaces that are needed in the area.


Photos taken of the current site and surrounding context


The local area


Cambridgeshire economy is tailored towards life sciences, but there is a shortage of floorspace needed for sustained growth. There is high demand for high quality laboratory space locally. Our exciting proposals aim to maximise the potential of this underutilised site, delivering high quality, wellbeing-led labs, and workspaces in a building with leading sustainability credentials.


North East Cambridge Area Action Plan (NEECAP)

The site is located within NECAAP, which is a policy included in the Greater Cambridge emerging Local Plan. The NECAAP area includes 182 hectares of brownfield land in north Cambridge. The policy outlines how the area will be transformed into a new city district. Our vision has been shaped by the key NECAAP priorities:

  • A low environmental impact, addressing the urgent climate emergency by locating new jobs near homes, promoting walking, cycling, and public transport.
  • A biodiversity-friendly design, with open air spaces and outdoor landscaped areas, contributing to aspirations to double nature in Greater Cambridge.
  • Bringing activities into the area to help support a self-sustaining new city district that physically and socially integrates with the neighbouring communities.


St. John’s Masterplan

The St John’s masterplan includes a range of office and R&D buildings, as well as a transport hub and new landscaping. We have carefully developed our design for the Vitrum Building to complement the future local context.





Our Vision

Our Vision

The proposals seek to deliver high quality, wellbeing-led laboratories and workspaces in a building with leading sustainability credentials.

The Vitrum Building will be a modern and flexible workplace with a lively and inclusive community. We will deliver innovative laboratories and workspaces, with sustainable architecture that blends together with its green surroundings and promotes biodiversity.


New skilled jobs – The creation of well paid, skilled jobs within the local community.

Promoting educational opportunities by committing to a minimum number of apprenticeships and engaging with the local schools and institutions.

Engagement with the local community regarding educational sessions and workshops for local schools and colleges at the site.

Improved cycling and pedestrian routes around the site, as well as publicly accessible landscaped areas.

Development contributions will be made to help support and fund Local Authority infrastructure projects.

Addressing the shortage of research and development floorspace in the local area.

Increased business rates (payable to the local authority) due to the redevelopment of the site being more financially viable.

Strengthening the research and development cluster with access to neighbouring science parks & facilities.



The proposed redevelopment of the Vitrum Building has sustainability at the heart of its proposals

Our proposals have leading sustainability credentials. There will be extensive new landscaping to improve the biodiversity, and consequently the appearance, of the site.

Sustainability and wellbeing sit at the heart of our plans. This is why we are delivering a low-operational carbon building which contains generous floor to ceiling heights in order to maximise natural light, as well as amenity spaces for the building users. We have also developed a recyclable water strategy, ensuring we can harvest and re-use existing water.

Our sustainability strategy of overarching principles captures the project’s key priorities and aspirations. This ensures that the project’s sustainability achievements are not limited to those relating to targeted certifications, but rather a holistic approach that encompasses wider sustainability.

Recycling parts of the existing structure on the site

Delivering a low carbon lifecycle design, aiming for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) Excellent

Reducing embodied carbon and limiting the environmental impact of the proposals is at the forefront of the design process

The design will promote healthy and active lifestyle (we are targeting Well Core certification of Gold)

Built-in climate resilience through passive design, reduced water consumption, mitigating flood risk, and reducing the urban heat island effect (occurs when natural surfaces are replaced with pavements and buildings)

Landscaping and biodiversity

Our proposals would deliver a number of landscaping improvements. This would deliver a net gain in biodiversity and make the building an attractive place where people want to work and relax.

The design of our proposals features an open and transparent ground floor to interact with the green spaces that surround the building. Promoting wellbeing within the workplace by integrating the built and natural environments.



Providing biodiverse green infrastructure in and around the building to provide a haven floor local flora and fauna

Green roofs and terraces will deliver a Biodiversity Net Gain

Indicative CGI of the future relationship between the inside and outsides spaces on the ground floor.



The site is well connected, with access to cycling routes, the Guided Busway and North Cambridge Station. Our transport strategy will prioritise active travel and public transport.

Promotion of active travel and healthy living, with new cycle spaces

Providing electric vehicle spaces

Areas for dockless bikes and e-scooters

No increase in car parking spaces compared to existing levels

Incentivising active travel through ambitious Travel Plan targets

Scheme design


The plans would deliver an innovative, industry leading building designed to maximise the potential of the site.

A key element in the design of the building’s spaces has been innovation. We are proposing workspaces with innovative layouts and increased connections between flexible labs and write-up areas. We also aim to increase opportunities for interaction between people and teams, to share knowledge and experiences. There will be a range of shared indoor and outdoor spaces, including access to nature as a workplace.



The materials we are proposing have been influenced by local context, including neighbouring buildings and local woodlands.

Our proposals are designed to continue the green spaces of St. Johns Innovation Park, extending them into the entrance plaza and into the foyer of the building through the transparent façade. Additionally, the surrounding landscaping a north-eastern planting belt is continued on the landscaped terraces and roofs of our proposals.


Join the conversation

Have Your Say

We want the local community to help shape our ideas for the future of Vitrum by Breakthrough.

We hosted our public consultation from November-December 2022 in-person and on this website. The consultation window has now been closed since 18th December 2022.

Thank you for all of the feedback we have received. If you would still like to provide your feedback, please visit the ‘contact us’ section on this website where you will find the dedicated email address for this scheme.


By completing and submitting this questionnaire you confirm you have been provided with and read our Privacy Notice. The collection of your personal data is undertaken in accordance with the terms of our Privacy Notice. Our Privacy Notice can be downloaded at kandaconsulting.co.uk/privacy-policy


Project Timeline

Early 2022

Start of pre-application process with Cambridge City Council

Autumn 2022

Engagement with key local and community stakeholders

November-December 2022

Public consultation

Early 2023

Planning Application submitted


Determination of planning application


Construction begins on site

Contact Us

Thank you for taking the time to visit our website on our proposals for the future of Vitrum by Breakthrough.

If you have any questions about the proposals, or would like to speak to a member of the team, please do not hesitate to get in touch using the contact details below or by filling in the contact form.

Email: hello@vitrumbybreakthrough.com

Phone Number: 020 3900 3676



    All information you give us will be stored safely, treated confidentially, and only used in connection with this project. However, these details are not required, should you wish not to provide them.