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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.

We have spent the past seven months engaging with local residents and community groups, key stakeholders, and the local planning authority about our proposals. We would like to thank everyone who engaged with us for their time and feedback, which has helped shape the proposals.

For more information about the consultation process and how we have responded to feedback, please see here. We have now submitted the planning application, but you can still get in touch with us via the ‘Contact Us’ section of this website if you have any comments or questions.


Show your support for the plans!

It’s vitally important that local residents and businesses let Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service know of their support for these planning applications before it is determined by the Joint Development Control Committee.

We would be particularly grateful if you would consider submitting a letter of support in favour of the planning application. This can be done through the link below, which creates an email to the Council’s Planning department with the application reference, ’23/01487/FUL & 23/01509/FUL’ in the subject of the email.

Please do read this, add any further comments and insert your name, address and postcode before sending.

Submit your letter of support here

Alternatively, comments can be submitted via the ‘Comments’ section on the Council’s planning portal. It is worth noting that you will need to have registered an account with the Council make a comment through the portal.


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.

Two photos showing the current three-storey building and car park, as well as the building and car park located opposite the site.

Photos taken of the current site and surrounding context


The local area


The 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 (NECAAP)

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.

An annotated map showing the site, located in the north east corner of St John's Innovation Park. St John's Innovation Park is located to the east of Cambridge Science Park, and both parks are within the North East Cambridge Area Action Plan area. Other local places of interest include Milton Country Park, Cambridge Regional College, and Cambridge North station.


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 have been shaped by ongoing engagement with local stakeholders and residents over the past seven months. The development will deliver a flexible, high-performance laboratory facility, easily adaptable for a wide range of scientific uses, and workspaces in a building with leading sustainability credentials.

Vitrum by Breakthrough 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.

Up to 700 new, well-paid jobs within the local area

Offering apprenticeships through the development, which will be promoted during continued engagement with local schools and educational institutions

Accessible and inclusive environment for employees and visitors

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 North Cambridge research and development cluster with access to neighbouring science parks & facilities

A highly sustainable building with a focus on increasing energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions and providing healthy workspaces


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 for 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, including 280 secure cycle spaces for staff and visitors

50% of car parking spaces will be electric vehicle spaces (all of the car parking spaces will have provision for the installation of EV charging equipment)

Areas for dockless bikes and e-scooters

Secure cycling parking for staff in the building and a range of cycle parking spaces, including spaces suitable for enlarged cycles

A similar level of car parking (108 spaces) to existing levels (102 spaces)

Incentivising active travel through ambitious Travel Plan targets

Scheme design


The plans have been shaped by ongoing community engagement and pre-application discussions with the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service. We will deliver an innovative, industry-leading building designed to maximise the potential of the site and deliver a range of benefits for the building users and the local community.

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.


Responding to feedback

We are grateful for the valuable local knowledge and intel that local residents and groups have shared with us throughout our community engagement. This has enabled us to refine the scheme and propose the best possible development of the site.

Some of the key topics raised during our community engagement included:

Community Facilities: Feedback on this subject included ideas around education on sustainable living, including energy and food waste, all suggestions which the team are exploring.

Height: Our original design for the site featured a maximum building height of 34 metres. However, in response to feedback, we have significantly reduced this to a maximum height of 27 metres, in line with other consented buildings also coming forward on St John’s Innovation Park.

Transport and Parking: We know some people are concerned that car parking could be displaced from the site to the local area, and we have developed our transport strategy to help avoid this. We will provide 99 car parking spaces in the basement, managed by a booking system which includes EV charging facilities. Whilst promoting active travel with 280 high-quality cycle parking facilities located on the ground floor, with the aim of encouraging more sustainable travel where possible, in line with local policy.

Landscaping: The landscape strategy was welcomed, with comments about the need to ensure these areas are well maintained. This is an important point, and we are proposing a range of native and semi-native trees and shrubs to improve the biodiversity and appearance of the site without extensive maintenance. We will also use an automatic irrigation system, utilising rainwater harvested onsite.


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’d like to thank everyone who took the time to provide feedback on the scheme over the past seven months. We have now submitted the planning applications, but you can still get in touch with us via the ‘Contact Us’ section of this website if you have any comments or questions. The applications have now been validated by the planning service and you can find it by searching for [23/01487/FUL] or [23/01509/FUL] or on the planning portal.

We are committed to ongoing engagement throughout the planning process and beyond, and we will continue liaising with local stakeholders and groups to arrange further meetings as required.

Our community engagement strategy focused on engagement with local residents, workers and stakeholders, to understand local views so feedback could be incorporated into the design process. Engagement activities have included:

  • Attending the North East Cambridge Community Forum to present the initial vision for the site
  • Contacting local stakeholders and groups to highlight the proposals and encourage people to get involved in the engagement process
  • Distributing 2,500 leaflets about the engagement process to local addresses.
  • Launching a dedicated consultation website where local residents and stakeholders could view more information about the plans and provide feedback
  • Hosting an in-person public consultation event at Orwell House for the local community – the materials from the event are available here
  • Youth engagement sessions at Shirley Community Primary School Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service to design new benches for the site
  • Meeting with Milton Parish Council to present the updated scheme and answer any questions
  • Meeting with the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Disability Consultative Panel to discuss the accessibility of the scheme
  • Meeting with Camcycle to discuss cycling provision within the proposals

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Project Timeline

Summer 2022

Start of pre-application process with Cambridge City Council

Autumn 2022 - Spring 2023

Ongoing engagement with local residents and community stakeholders

November-December 2022

Public consultation in-person and via consultation website

April 2023

Planning Application submitted (please note that dates beyond this point are estimates)

Winter 2023

Determination of planning application


Construction begins on site

Early 2026

Construction completed

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



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