Jesus College wants to build a swanky new science park but warns time is of the essence
With the Council anything but on-side, the College says it’s a now-or-never moment for Cambridge
Jesus College are brazenly pushing on with their planning application for a brand new science and residential park in Cambridge.
Undeterred by fierce opposition, Jesus’ bursar, Christopher Pratt, has upped the stakes with his claim that the need for new research space “is so important and immediate its solution cannot be delayed until the next round of plan making,” by which time research bodies will be looking elsewhere.
He argues that while the debate around growth in Cambridge has centred on housing numbers, it has failed to recognise the crucial needs of the research community in the life sciences sector.
He is keen to see the development of three sites that Jesus own around Cambridge, to the south near Addenbrooke’s, to the east and to the west near the M11, for the purposes of research.
The original Cambridge Science Park has mushroomed since the 1970s and is now bursting at its seams. The Economist was gushing in a recent article, proclaiming the park as “the most exciting technology cluster in Europe” and pinpointed it as the reason Cambridge “has more billion-dollar companies than cities ten times as big.”
The Jesus bursar is convinced that without this new development the University’s world-leading and award-winning research will falter, since its continued success is dependent upon the close interaction of academics, doctors and commercial R & D companies.
Only earlier this year, Sir Stephen O’Rahilly from the Biomedial Research Centre won a renowned award for his work on diabetes.
Jesus hope to continue this kind of success with their development. With their plan they would follow in Trinity’s footsteps, who developed the first science park in the UK back in 1970.
Moreover, Mr. Pratt believes that the Jesus site to the south provides the perfect opportunity to attract new business to Cambridge.
The proximity to both clinicians and researchers that is vital to businesses, he argues, would be perfectly served by the proposed science park next to Addenbrooke’s.
He is confident that the new development could deliver the supply chain to AstraZeneca, which has yet to impact Cambridge.
Since further land allocations are likely to occur only in the distant future around 2020/21, Jesus see now as the prime time to push ahead with their planning.
They are backed by the joint promoters of the site, Pigeon Land and Lands Improvement Holdings, to deliver this much-needed development to Cambridge in order to maintain the level of world-leading research and maximise economic growth.
The Economist identified “enlightened laissez-faire” as the key to Cambridge’s success over the past four decades. Let’s hope this isn’t forgotten by those currently determining Cambridge’s future.