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Wednesday 15 April 2015

Cheshire East set to back Jodrell Bank’s bid to stay a world leader


Cheshire East Council is set to invest £1m as part of a support package to keep the Jodrell Bank Observatory at the forefront of global scientific research.

Currently, Jodrell Bank is competing to retain its status as the headquarters of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project for another 50 years after the end of the existing contract, which has only four years left to run.

Retaining headquarters status is estimated to be worth £1billion in private sector investment and will help to secure an additional 200 jobs on the site near Goostrey.

The Council’s Cabinet will be asked next week to approve £1m of capital funding to pay for a package of activity and support that will focus on connectivity and asset enhancement.

The proposed work will only go ahead if Jodrell Bank retains its status as headquarters of the SKA, which is a multinational project to create the world’s largest radio telescope.

Cheshire East’s support will also unlock more than £100m of funding from the European Regional Development Fund, Heritage Lottery and the further education sector.

The University of Manchester is already investing £16m toward refurbishment of the Grade 1 listed assets on the site and more than £19m is being sought from HLF and ERDF to build a new visitor pavilion and gallery space.

Caroline Simpson, the Council’s executive director for economic growth and prosperity, said: “The Council has set out a clear action plan to develop and grow the technology and science corridor in the area and Jodrell Bank plays a key part in this plan.

“The Council is committed to supporting the growth and success of the Jodrell Bank site as a unique asset in the Cheshire Science Corridor, and we continue to work closely with partners across the Manchester city region to develop the site’s record in hosting world-class science and visitor activities.” 

The Council also plans to put in place a Local Development Order for the Jodrell Bank site which will allow for a simplified planning process.

And it wants to work with partners to establish an international school to support the growing workforce attracted by the Borough’s cluster of science and technology-based industries.

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