Job Creation as Science Park Expands
By Anne Lewis-Schneider
Culham Science Park started out as the Royal Naval Air Station between 1944 and 1953, when it was then chosen to be the site for laboratories for the UK Atomic Energy Authorityís plasma physics and fusion research. From there it progressed in the 1970ís as the site of the Joint European Torus science project. That research is still on-going but the Science Park is now also home to private companies and there are now 45 firms located on this 197 acre landmark site.
Culham Science Park is set to expand in the hope of attracting more science and technology businesses, and thus creating upwards of 1000 new job opportunities. The UK Atomic Energy Authority is hoping for significant growth with the new developments planned and to host more companies. Abingdon Town Council leader Sandy Lovatt has welcomed the prospect of new jobs in the town saying there is a vast amount of science going on at the landmark Oxfordshire site, and it would create new jobs for school leavers. Many residents of Abingdon are employed at the Science Park.
Planning applications have been submitted for the new development which includes three research laboratories and office space. Steven Moss of UK Energy Authority property strategy has welcomed the significant growth it will bring, and he said that if planning permission is granted then private companies will be encouraged to occupy the site. He hopes that building can be started as early as next year. The space can be better utilised as an employment site, and it would be economically valuable. Although there are other sites in Oxfordshire that make up Science Vale UK, namely Harwell Oxford and Milton Park, it is hoped that the aesthetic qualities of Culum Science Park will draw new occupants to fill the new facilities.
Abingdon and Oxford West MP Nicola Blackwood has welcomed the proposal, saying it will bring a boost for Abingdonís local economy. Oxfordshire has the potential to grow into Britainís hi-tech economy powerhouse with its enormous fund of science and scientific research expertise. Oxfordshire Chamber of Commerce president Bob Bradley has expressed his delight in the news of expansion and the potential job creation it will bring and has added that he hopes that this development would speed up broadband infrastructure and a more efficient transport service to the area in the wake of this growth.
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