Trust resubmits genome site bid

April 19, 2002

The Wellcome Trust has resubmitted its failed application to extend its genome campus at Hinxton Hall, Cambridge.

The scaled-down proposal would see a development just over half the size of the original plan, which sparked a fierce row between government departments.

The trust launched an appeal after its 1998 application, which included a biotechnology science park, was turned down by South Cambridgeshire council. The council was concerned about the scale of the application, some 40,000m2, saying it threatened the local conservation area.

The Department of Trade and Industry championed the prospect of a new biotechnology park. But the following year the appeal was thrown out by deputy prime minister John Prescott at the then Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. Afterwards, the trust was rumoured to be looking to locate the science park overseas.

The new plan would still cost more than £100 million. It proposes a ,000m2 site that includes an extension to academic facilities and a start-up incubator, but plans for the business park have been shelved.

"We wanted to enable established companies with genomics research activities to locate on the campus," said Michael Morgan, chief executive of the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus. "We've been working well with the local authority and we have every confidence that it meets their expectations."

Local MP Andrew Lansley, who objected to the previous plans, has expressed his support for the new proposals. "The Wellcome Trust has come forward with an application with much more merit than last time. South Cambridgeshire council is seeking to ensure there is a stock of suitable high-tech sites for start-ups. I think it is something the local council should support."

He said the plans would enhance local science, opening up jobs and business opportunities in the area. "It will further reinforce Cambridge's unique status as a place where hi-tech can be further developed."

A decision from South Cambridgeshire council is expected in the next few months.

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