Councillors have approved plans for the new European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) at the University of Reading. 

Wokingham Borough Council’s planning committee approved the Government plans at its February 14 meeting. Work is expected to start towards the end of this year with completion in Autumn 2026.

The new headquarters will be developed by the Government Property Agency’s (GPA) delivery partners AtkinsRéalis and Mace. It will accommodate up to 300 scientists and staff to support work on all aspects of weather prediction systems, forecast production and research into climate change.

The GPA says that along with the university’s Department of Meteorology and parts of the UK Met Office, NERC National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences and NERC National Centre for Earth Observation all currently on the university site, the addition of the new ECMWF head office will mean Reading will house one of the largest clusters of weather and climate research and operational forecasting facilities in the world.

The project is funded through the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, and will be designed to net zero carbon standards.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office, Alex Burghart, said: “Ensuring the UK stays at the forefront of the global science and technology sector is essential to delivering long-term economic growth and security across the country.

“Reading is the ideal location for this new headquarters, perfectly positioned to access the university’s strong talent pipeline and create fantastic new opportunities for the next generation.”

Clive Anderson, director of capital projects for the GPA, said: “We are delighted to achieve planning permission to develop this new facility, which will deliver a modern, inspirational and energy-efficient headquarters for ECMWF’s forecasting, research and training functions, retaining a world-leading scientific organisation and attracting long-term investment into the region.

“It’s another milestone for us at the Government Property Agency to deliver smart, modern, sustainable and digitally connected workplaces that focus on supporting productivity and wellbeing.”

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