The new vaccines centre at Harwell Campus has been fast-tracked through the planning system.

Vale of White Horse District Council (VoWHDC) has granted consent under delegated powers for the highly specialist unit that will be home to the UK’s Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC).

The 7,000 sq m  centre will be the first of its kind in the UK. It was intended to open in 2022 but, because of a joint bid to rapidly accelerate its delivery owing to the research for a Covid-19 vaccine, the centre is now due to open in 2021.

VoWHDC even allowed construction to begin while it was still processing the planning application.

There were requent meetings between stakeholders including VMIC, Harwell Campus Management (project managers), Carter Jonas (planning consultant), Glencar Construction (main constructor) and UK Research and Innovation, the agency funding VMIC .

Cllr Neil Fawcett,  cabinet member for strategic partnerships and place at VoWHDC, said: “Everyone involved in the planning process, including a significant number of consultees, have recognised the national importance of this project and have prioritised their time to ensuring any issues were identified and resolved quickly.

“This proactive partnership-based approach has enabled us to progress the application to approval under delegated powers as quickly as possible while building work is taking place.”

Angus Horner, Harwell Campus director, said: “This project has been a tour de force by hundreds of people working together strenuously and collaboratively, for the greater good.  Harwell has enjoyed a positive relationship with local planners in the Vale of White Horse for many years.   This project demonstrates that when we in the UK set our minds to it we can all work at a rapid pace, to successfully surmount challenges and deliver for broader society.”

A Government grant of £93million was awarded to VMIC in May 2020 to help it expand and fast-track the new centre.

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