Ascot life science building plans unanimously approved

PLANS to build a science building on greenbelt land that will research “humanity’s greatest challenges” have been unanimously approved by councillors.

Silwood Park Science Park in Buckhurst Road, Ascot, will see a new three-storey ‘life science building’ that will examine plants, animals, micro-organisms, diseases, and humans.

The 5,260sqm building, which will come with a café, will be split into offices and laboratory space to assist its science and research professions. It will accommodate small to medium science companies and start-ups.

It is hoped plans will “kickstart” the regeneration of the park, create 130 full-time employment and new apprenticeship and training opportunities, contribute to the growing UK life science profession, and pump £27m into the UK economy.

READ MORE: Ascot health hub approved after 11 years in the works

Speaking on behalf of developer NSS IV (Real Estate) LLP at a Windsor and Ascot development management meeting, Neil Rowley said the building will help “face humanity’s greatest challenges” and will research Malaria, food security, wildfires, and tools to predict and mitigate the next pandemic.

However, this will involve demolishing the existing business centre and developing on the greenbelt. The park will also need to increase its current 211 car parking spaces by 13 bays, 45 of which will have electric vehicle charging points.

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The Ascot and Sunninghill parish council objected to the plans and had ‘serious concerns’ the building’s increased height will affect the green belt’s openness and the small rise in car parking spaces is “totally inadequate” given the site has “poor” public transport networks, resulting in the increase of employees driving there.

Cllr Julian Sharpe (Con: Ascot & Sunninghill) said: “This is a really good application on a really good site.

“It’s a site that I identified about 11 years ago when we were doing the neighbourhood plan as entirely the right site for a development of this type.

“I’m really pleased it has come forward. It seems to be entirely appropriate in the area and is absolutely the right development. It’s absolutely integral with Imperial College, which is across the way from it.

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“The problem I think I would identify is the potential increase travel of cars on Buckhurst Road and I’m hoping that we find a solution for that.”

Royal Borough planning officers believed the economic benefits and the proposed landscaping, tree planting, environmentally friendly elements, such as heat pumps, outweighs the harm to the greenbelt.

They also found its impact on the highway, its appearance on the character of the area, and its parking provision acceptable.

Councillors sitting on the planning panel gave the plans their unanimous support on Wednesday, March 2.

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