Councillors in Oxford have unanimously approved 10,929 sq m of lab space.

Plans by Firoka (Oxford Leisure) to demolish the former Buzz Bingo hall at the Ozone Leisure Centre in Grenoble Road, which closed during lockdown in 2020, faced little opposition at Oxford City Council’s planning committee on March 19.

Speaking for the applicant, Raoul Veevers from JLL said: “The development will form an extension to the life sciences ecosystem in Oxford, contributing to the retention and attraction of life sciences companies and life sciences talent.

“The development responds to an enormous need. There are minimal vacancy levels of lab space in Oxford, particularly in the cluster – only one per cent.

“We have tracked 81,000 sq m of active lab demand in the Oxford area alone. There’s an opportunity to grow the life sciences cluster in this part of Oxford, in combination with the neighbouring Oxford Science Park, and a wide ranging suite of benefits will be delivered by the scheme, to the local economy.”

Cllr Louise Upton said: “It underlines the fact that Oxfordshire is one of the few parts of the country that’s making a net positive contribution to the national economy. Life sciences are absolutely booming.

“We just heard there’s only one per cent of empty space. We are the silicon valley of the UK, which is, in many ways, great.”

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