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Lancaster University has taken one step closer to becoming a pioneer of healthcare with the acquisition of around 35,000sqm of land for the Innovation Campus.
The Innovation Campus is a project that will allow the University to research further into technology and care programmes in conjunction with healthcare and commercial partners such as the Centre for Disability Research, The Centre for Aging Research as well as the Lancaster Health Hub with which it currently holds a high standing. The aim of this new centre is to develop solutions to issues that occur due to ageing populations. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Atherton has previously said “The Lancaster Health Innovation Campus will build on Lancaster University’s already strong reputation for research into health and ageing.”
Professor Atherton also stated that this project is a “very significant investment that will contribute hugely to the regional economy.” Once the campus is completely finished and open, it has been said that it will create over 2,000 jobs as well as provide an enhancement of £100m to the regional economy as found by an independent economic impact assessment.
The location for this site is next to the University on Bailrigg Lane, with an access road to be formed from the A6. The site itself will feature a range of different buildings, from community and academic facilities to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). The Faculty of Health of Medicine, currently on the main campus, will be relocated to these new academic facilities. Dean of this faculty, Neil Johnson, has that the Innovation Campus will “drive new innovations, new thinking, new approaches, new services and new products in healthcare, making a significant impact locally, nationally and internationally”. Another section of the campus will accommodate 200 residential units to be used as a co-located retirement village to bring together the academics, industrial partners and participants in one place.
Plans for the development of this site began in 2009 when planning permission was first granted for a Lancaster Science Park before being renewed in 2012. The recession gave the project partners time to develop and reimagine the scheme in order to produce a strong proposal to present to key funding partners that reflected the core strengths and lead role of the University.
Lancaster City Council acquired the site for this project back in 2009 when development began, but it is only now seven years later that the acquisition has completed. The Leader of Lancaster City Council, Councillor Eileen Blamire, had this to say on the acquisition:
“This is excellent news for Lancaster and the long term vitality of the district’s economy. The Innovation Campus is an exciting development and will strengthen the district’s attractiveness for investors, further boosting economic growth and creating top-quality jobs.
She continued saying that the city council is pleased that they were able to promote the project for many years but that they are also glad to be passing on the overall lead. She noted that “transferring ownership of the land from the council to the university is an important milestone and we look forward to continuing to help the university deliver this important scheme in the coming months and years.”
The design of this Innovation Campus has been handled by architectural firm ‘JohnMcAslan+Partners’, who have also designed the Engineering Building, the Human Resources Building, Charles Carter, the Learning Zone and the Postgraduate Statistics Centre.
Work on the £41m Phase 1 of the facility is expected to start later on this year, with an approximate opening in 2019.