£36 million funding for Thames Valley Science Park first phase gets green light
Release Date 28 January 2016
The £36 million funding for the first phase of Thames Valley Science Park has been formally approved by the University Council.
It will be invested in the new Gateway Building, the landmark entrance to the entire site, while housing the first wave of tenant high-technology firms – who will be announced from this autumn onwards.
The Gateway will provide top-class office and laboratory space with a café, conference facilities and flexible meeting spaces – the first of four buildings set to be developed on the 42 acre site. The University has appointed GRAHAM Construction as the building contractor for the first phase.
The Thames Valley Science Park will be the biggest dedicated science business park in the region and one of the largest in the South East. It will eventually provide 800,000 square foot of flexible laboratory and office space across its campus-style site – with the potential to employ up to 5,000 people.
The first phase will also establish all the major site infrastructure required on the site, including an road link to the Eastern Relief Road; links to utilities and digital networks; major landscaping work to the entire site; and new cycle and pedestrian routes. The £36m also includes a £3m contribution towards the Eastern Relief Road.
Building work is due to start before Easter with the first phase expected to open to businesses from spring 2017 – having got final planning permission from Wokingham Borough Council last August. It is expected that tenants will include a number of fast-growing firms relocating from the current Science & Technology Centre on the Whiteknights Campus.
The full Science Park will take up 25 years to be fully developed, with significant long-term investment from the University.
University of Reading Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell said:
“This is a crucial next step in this major project. The Thames Valley Science Park will generate jobs, promote innovation and stimulate growth – nurturing start-up business and helping small firms grow rapidly. We are proud to be investing in the region, a major powerhouse of the British economy. This initial building phase means we are on track to open next year, with the first wave to tenants confirmed later in 2016.”
David Gillham, Director of Thames Valley Science Park said:
"This announcement represents a significant milestone in what has been a long term ambition for the University and builds on the already significant cluster of high growth potential companies already based in our business centres on the Whiteknights Campus. Our ambition is to create a science park with international structure and reputation".
The Science Park is a critical part of the South of M4 Strategic Development Location, which includes 2,500 new market and affordable homes, community facilities, including retail units and schools, and strong public transport improvements – including better links to London and Heathrow.
To provide good access to the Science Park, the University, in partnership with Wokingham Borough Council, secured a £25m Homes & Communities Agency funding for the 1.8km Shinfield Eastern Relief Road. The steel beams for the Relief Road’s new six lane bridge over the M4 were lifted into place in December and the entire project is due to finalised in June 2016.
The Shinfield Eastern Relief Road is being constructed by HOCHTIEF (UK) Construction on behalf of the University of Reading.