Artist's impression of the new development.

£19 million research centre on RD&E site receives go ahead

A £19 million research centre at the RD&E Wonford site has been given the green light by city planners.

The application for the state of the art research, innovation, learning and development centre was submitted by the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry and the University of Exeter.

It has been unanimously approved by Exeter City Council planning committee. The centre, to be jointly funded by all partners, will harness skills, learning and innovation to improve patient care in a single centre of excellence. The project has also been awarded £4.75 million of funding from the prestigious Wellcome-Wolfson capitals award scheme, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Wolfson Foundation as part of their investment in UK scientific infrastructure. It has been unanimously approved by Exeter City Council planning committee.

The centre will feature modern facilities for pioneering on-site research into the treatment of conditions such as diabetes and obesity, further enhancing the reputation of all research partners as global leaders in these fields. It will consolidate a wide range of research currently taking place across the city, bringing together clinical and biomedical scientists working in human genetics, cell biology and human physiology under one roof, and significantly expanding the quantity and variety of projects undertaken.

The building will replace the Trust’s existing postgraduate education centre, which is set to be demolished in early 2012. Work will begin on the new centre in spring, with completion scheduled for autumn 2013.

Planning approval is subject to normal conditions including: tree protection, provision of cycle parking and time of day limits on the construction works. The RD&E is working with Mace Ltd as project managers for the build. Interserve Construction Ltd are the principal supply chain partner (contractors) for the project, and Devereux Architects have been the lead in designing the building.

RD&E Deputy Director of Capital & Estates, John Rogers said: “We are delighted that this exciting project has been given the go ahead. The project team have worked closely with planners and consulted local residents and staff in order to develop a cost-efficient, environmentally friendly building. The careful planning will help us to maintain business as usual while these works take place.”

Professor Steve Thornton, Dean at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, commented: “Planning permission brings this exciting and innovative research centre one step further towards completion. The research we will be able to continue and create in our new facility will have direct benefits to patients around the world, emphasising our commitment to first rate research that shows a direct route from the laboratory to patient treatment and care.”

Professor Janice Kay, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter said: “This world-class facility will enhance the reputation of research from the region and benefit patients in the South West and around the world. It will help Exeter further its reputation for being a leading centre for medical research, particularly around diabetes. This kind of investment is vital to support research and education which improves lives and helps benefit the local economy."

Date: 5 October 2011

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