The project will add around a further 12,500m2 of new lab and office space to the site, almost doubling its total internal area and providing superb new facilities for innovation, collaboration, research and development.
One of the new buildings will be used by University research groups, with the other leased to innovative private-sector companies. Discussions are well underway with organisations that are potentially interested in occupying space in the latter building, and the University hopes to reach agreement before long.
This is one of the first projects to move forward under the £4 billion partnership between Oxford University and Legal & General Group plc (L&G). OUD is a property development company set up under the joint venture to support delivery of the University’s strategic goals of creating world-class innovation districts and new housing for staff and graduate students. Its responsibilities include designing projects, applying for planning consent and consulting with local communities. Construction and delivery of the projects will be the responsibility of a special purpose vehicle set up by L&G.
The University already had outline planning permission to build on the site so only a ‘reserved matters’ application covering detailed design of the buildings was required. Now that reserved matters approval has been granted, the University and L&G intend for work to begin on site later in 2022, with completion targeted for early 2024.
The aim is to build on the Science Park’s long history as a lively innovation ecosystem in which academic researchers work closely with the private sector to address major challenges facing society. The Science Park currently hosts some 20 research groups and 30 high-tech science-based businesses and spin-outs.
In the longer term, the University hopes to transform the wider area around the Science Park into a world-leading innovation district, including housing, schools, communal facilities, green spaces and sustainable transport links. The aim is to create a thriving new community that will benefit everyone in the area, not just the University. An international competition is currently underway to appoint a design team to create the masterplan that will guide the creation of the innovation district; the winner will be announced in March 2022; a shortlist of five teams was announced in early 2022.