Funding for Harpenden’s Rothamsted Research expansion plan

Rothamsted Research in Harpenden has secured funding for its expansion

Rothamsted Research in Harpenden has secured funding for its expansion - Credit: Image supplied

A MAJOR cash injection has been secured from the government to help provide financial backing for Rothamsted Research’s proposed multi-million-pound expansion in Harpenden.

The longest running agricultural research station in the world will receive up to £8.2 million towards construction of a new shared resource hub, and a further £2.7 million for a conference centre.

Stephen James, associate director of operations at Rothamsted, said: “I am delighted by this significant commitment from the Government to invest, not only in UK science but also our local community in Harpenden and St Albans.”

Rothamsted is consulting with residents on its proposed scheme for a state-of-the-art conference and meeting centre to replace a decades-old lecture room.

It would include a 300-seat lecture theatre and the facility would be available for use by local businesses and schools to hold various events. The second building, a resource hub, would be shared by industrial and academic scientists.

A spokesman for Rothamsted explained: “It would be a centre for industrial collaboration, where researchers from industry and academics can work together in the office space and laboratories.”

He said a planning application for the scheme was expected to be lodged with St Albans district council shortly.

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Rothamsted hopes to receive planning permission by the end of this year and have the expansion completed by April 2015.

The spokesman said several older buildings at the centre were no longer fit for purpose.

Funding for the expansion will come from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), as part of a wider £30 million investment to drive economic growth from UK agri-science, recently announced by Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts.

The MP said: “Britain has the potential to be world-leading in agricultural science and technology yet our productivity growth has dropped significantly in the past 30 years. Leading-edge campuses will help reverse that trend by getting our researchers and businesses working together to commercialise their ideas. This is vital for our economy and future food security.”