First phase plans for Thames Valley Science Park approved
Release Date 21 August 2015
Councillors on Wokingham Borough Council's Planning Committee have unanimously agreed to approve ambitious plans from the University of Reading for the first phase of development of the new Thames Valley Science Park in Shinfield.
The first phase includes the striking Gateway Building. This will be the landmark entrance to the Park which is aimed at attracting small and medium-sized innovation led and technology-based companies that are developing and delivering cutting-edge new products.
With approval granted, work on the Gateway Building is expected to commence shortly. It is anticipated that the Science Park will open in spring 2017.
The Thames Valley Science Park will eventually provide 800,000 square foot of flexible laboratory and office space in a campus-style setting with a pedestrianised central concourse.
The opening of the Science Park will re-inforce the already pre-eminent status of the Thames Valley as one of Europe's strongest knowledge economies and as a location for innovation and technology.
In 2013, the University announced its commitment to an investment of up to £50 million to establish the site infrastructure and phase one construction. An initial investment of up to £30 million will create the site infrastructure and first building, with further investment anticipated to follow to complete phase one. The Science Park is a long-term project and is likely to take 20 to 25 years to be fully developed.
A public consultation process has found broad support for the development and the local job opportunities it will generate. The Park, once completed, will have the potential to employ up to 5,000 people.
During the debate, Planning Committee Chairman Councillor Simon Weeks said the Gateway 'is a landmark building with the high standard of design setting a good precedent for the rest of the Thames Valley Science Park'.
Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, said: "Investing in a new Science Park underlines the vital contribution the University makes to the Thames Valley's position as one of the most successful economic sub-regions in Europe.
"There is a substantial market in the region for such a facility, with no dedicated science park currently operating in the Thames Valley or London. With approval now granted for the first phase of the development, we can begin to deliver on this vision."
David Gillham, Director, Thames Valley Science Park said:
"The Thames Valley Science Park will build on the already established thriving community of knowledge-based companies on campus in our Enterprise Centre and Science and Technology Centre at Earley Gate. Those companies are already generating mutually beneficial links to the University, such as the development of knowledge transfer partnerships and through opportunities for student placements and graduate jobs. The Science Park is an important investment that will also generate profits that can be reinvested back into the University."
The University, in partnership with Wokingham Borough Council, secured an investment of almost £25 million for the Shinfield Eastern Relief Road, a key infrastructure development to underpin access to the Science Park as well as the Shinfield West housing development. Work on this is already underway and is expected to complete in June 2016.