RTPI President, Phil Williams was impressed with the contribution the GSK and Bioscience Catalyst Campus (pictured below) is making to the local economy in Stevenage when he visited there in late April as a part of his Presidential visit to the East of England.
“I was impressed how this facility is innovating and continually investing in the area to compete not just with other similar facilities across the UK but internationally too. It makes a major contribution to the local and national economy.”
It is the only facility in the country which is specifically for the pharmaceutical industry, known as the Catalyst Building. The joint venture between the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, GlaxoSmithKline, the Wellcome Trust and Innovate UK provides for the needs of bioscience start ups. He also viewed the new Cell Therapy Catapult which recently gained planning permission and is now under construction.
Phil also toured the new development at Alconbury Weald, formerly RAF Alconbury, to see where more than 5,000 new homes, 8,000 jobs and 700 acres of green space will soon be created. He met with the local authority planners to discuss the planning challenges of airbase closures. He is pictured below with Rebecca Britton from Urban & Civic, a property and investment company working at the site.
“The major transformation here will be a major boost for the local community. While there are a number of planning challenges to work through, the local planners are keen to deliver the new homes, jobs and infrastructure planned for the former defence site. There is clearly evidence of local political buy in and a strong relationship with the private sector. ”
The closure of Ministry of Defence sites across the East of England, including at Mildenhall and Barnham in Suffolk and Alconbury and Molesworth in Cambridgeshire, were announced earlier this year and are a major opportunity for new growth and jobs in the region.
Before visiting the bioscience campus and defence sites, Phil attended the RTPI East of England’s Place Making Conference where he gave a well received presentation on place making and the role of planning.
He also visited the Stevenage Museum to see how they are celebrating the 70th anniversary of Stevenage’s designation as a new town. The town, which is home to 84,000 people, is currently in the throes of developing a new Local Plan to guide regeneration and new growth through to 2031.
Phil will be heading to Australia in early May to meet with his counterpart at the Planning Institute of Australia and then visiting members in Scotland in early June.
View the President’s East of England itinerary.
Find out more about the RTPI East of England.