Plans for Swindon’s proposed science park near the village of Wanborough have been resubmitted by Wasdell Packaging which the company says will enable it to increase its contribution to the pharmaceutical, medical supplies and healthcare industries have been submitted. If approved, the Science Park will create at least 600 additional jobs within the Swindon economy.
Wasdell is Europe’s largest independent manufacturing and packaging supplier. Its proposals for science park will deliver new facilities for R&D and high-tech manufacturing in the region, as well as meeting the Group’s own requirements for growth.
The hybrid planning application was submitted to Swindon’s planning authority in December 2018.
The proposed site for the Science Park is at Inlands Farm, Wanborough, 300 metres south of the New Eastern Villages strategic allocation and just north of junction 15 of the M4. The Inlands Farm site is currently not allocated for development, but Wasdell’s consultants have examined 65 possible sites in total, and of those Inlands Farm is the only site that meets the specific needs of the Wasdell Group.
The Science Park site requires a minimum size of 35 hectares to allow for continued growth and development, and a maximum drive time from Swindon town centre of 15 minutes, to allow for the retention of the majority of Wasdell’s current staff.
Wasdell says that any proposed site must also be within 15 minutes’ drive of Junction 15 of the M4, to provide easy and rapid access to M4 to Heathrow, the UK’s cargo hub. This access is crucial in transporting ambient and temperature controlled goods of high value within a fixed, short timescale. In order to assure the Group’s imminent future growth the site must also be currently available and owned by, or in the control of, one landowner.
The planning application consists of two main elements. Phase 1 is detailed, seeking full consent for the Wasdell facility, comprising land use class B1c, parking, landscaping, drainage and green infrastructure. Phase 2 is outline, seeking consent to demolish buildings, and a further phase of land use class B1c and B1b. All matters, including means of access, landscaping, layout and scale, are reserved for Phase 2.
The revisions have been made in order to respond positively to responses to a number of matters raised by statutory consultees and other interested parties. They include removing the temporary access from Pack Hill for Phase 1, and seeking full consent instead for a roundabout access for Phases 1 and 2, which will enable the early delivery of this part of Swindon Borough Council’s Southern Connector Road. A significant number of changes have also been made to the proposed design of the buildings in order to further reduce their visual impact, along with additional landscaping.
Specialist Science Park delivery consultants Cam-Sci have also been appointed by Wasdell to advise on appropriate mechanisms to ensure the park is delivered as planned.
Wasdell Group Chairman Martin Tedham, whose family work in the company and live locally, said: “The Government has stated that the life sciences industry must play a crucial role in the future national economy, and there are considerable opportunities for our local and regional economy if as a town we embrace the life sciences and collaborate on R&D and investment.
“Recent events have brought home the importance of the pharmaceutical and medical devices supply chain. Wasdell is playing active role in the fight against the spread of coronavirus and patient testing in a bid to treat COVID-19. Lay people now understand the need for the few companies like ours that hold Specials Licences to provide support for the rapid testing of drugs in small-batch trials, and in the manufacture and production of products including often life-saving intravenous systems.
“We work in industries that are literally vital to us all, and I am proud of the contribution that my colleagues are making, and the Science Park will ensure that we can continue to innovate and grow the considerable offer that we have.”
Head of Planning South East at Turley, Peter Lawson said: “This is a hugely important project which we’re delighted to be leading upon. The cutting edge facilities to be provided at the new Swindon Science Park will provide a huge boost to the local and regional economy, creating jobs and growth at a time when the importance of the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries cannot be overstressed.”
The land agents for Swindon Science Park are Webb Paton.
Swindon Science Park will follow the typical UK model of high-quality, low density green spaces, separated by footpaths, cycle ways and water features. Only around 14 per cent of the park will comprise buildings, with the remainder of the site given over to green sustainable landscaping, screening, planting of native British trees and associated infrastructure.
The architect-designed buildings will be constructed using the latest technology and materials, with roof mounted solar panels to generate renewable energy and green sedum roofs to promote bio-diversity, air quality and rain water attenuation.
Wasdell employs more than 800 people in the UK, including scientists, doctors, packaging designers, administrators, quality controllers and packers. Around 650 of those employees are based in Swindon. New contracts secured by Wasdell means the number of production lines available needs to increase substantially.
Wasdell says the new facility will further benefit the Swindon and Wiltshire economy, creating at least 600 additional local jobs at all skills levels at Wasdell within a year of opening, with further increases in jobs as the Science Park develops. More than 230 suppliers based within 10 miles of Swindon also provide goods and services to Wasdell Group.
It is proposed that the first element of the new Wasdell facility will become operational in 2022, with the remainder of Swindon Science Park becoming operational over the subsequent four years.
Wasdell has invested heavily in manufacturing excellence and innovation since Martin Tedham brought the company to Swindon in 2010, which has led to an increase in turnover from £2m to £42m during that period.
The company was included in the 2019 Sunday Times’ Profit Track 100 – the definitive list of Britain’s best private companies with the fastest-growing profits – and with 55.5 per cent annual profit growth was the only Swindon-based company to make the list.