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REVEALED: £110m Investment Plans For Alderley Park

Jill Burdett on the future of the 400 acre science park on some of the region's most costly land

Written by . Published on January 12th 2015.


REVEALED: £110m Investment Plans For Alderley Park
 

CONSULTATIONS have begun on the future development of Alderley Park, the 400 acre science park that sits smack bang in the middle of some of Cheshire’s most expensive rolling countryside.

Fingers crossed the residential development is delivered by a specialist bespoke builder who cares about character and environment and can deliver way more than identikit boxes.

Manchester Science Partnerships* bought the site last year when Astra Zeneca decided to consolidate most of its research and development in Cambridge and MSP wants to crack on with plans to secure its future as a research and life sciences centre.

It intends to invest £110m over the next decade improving facilities and hopefully securing and creating highly skilled jobs and to fund this it wants to release parts of the site for housing, a hotel, more offices, storage and leisure uses.

A development framework document drawn up with Cheshire East Council says: "New land uses should be connected with life science activities, or by high value uses which release funds necessary to enable delivery of a world class Life Sciences Park."

It explains: “Without high value land uses, such as high quality residential development on the site, the costs associated with repurposing the facilities on site to be suitable for multiple occupiers and safeguarding and maintaining the existing scientific assets is likely to be an unrealistic business model.”

Alderley Park siteAlderley Park site (click to enlarge)

The framework divides the park into four key areas; Mereside, Parklands, South Campus, and Woodlands and Farm.

Mereside: would remain the main centre for research buildings like the BioHub but with some buildings demolished to make more of the waterside setting.

There is potential for some housing on the existing car park which is screened by mature trees from buildings and also overlooks the water.

Parklands: there's a suggestion for more 'discreet high quality residential' here although looking at the photos in the document I am not quite sure where.

South Campus: the only bit of the site that has retained any heritage buildings and the idea here is for 'smaller scale mixed-use development which showcases the impressive courtyard buildings.' This is where the arboretum is and the cricket pitch, so potential maybe for a community building and a local produce/farm shop as well as that high land value hotel.

This is also where most of the residential development would be with the benefit of direct access off Congleton Road.

Woodlands and Farm: new public access along footpaths, tracks and areas of the site, and the potential to link into the surrounding public footpath/bridleway routes through to National Trust land around Alderley Edge.

The scale of residential development is not clear from the framework diagrams and one of the consultation questions must be how much land is ear-marked for housing?

Given the nature of the area these are going to be high-end homes and the document argues: “This is a high value housing area, and local housing could be beyond the reach of some workers at the Life Science Park. Opportunities should be explored to deliver some affordable housing.

“However as there is a finite area available for development, the more given over to affordable housing the lower the returns to support the Life Science Park. Since the Council’s priority for this site is for the growth of the Life Science Park, assuming that it continues to be demonstrated that the delivery of the science park is not viable, there is therefore an argument in favour of reducing normal affordable housing requirements.”

(Normal is 30% of any development offering a mix of affordable rent and purchase).

Plans for Alderley ParkPlans for Alderley Park (click to enlarge)

It seems a pragmatic solution – selling off or developing parts of the site for sympathetic development to help fund investment in highly skilled technical jobs and offer employment to the scientists being nurtured by Manchester’s Universities.

Fingers crossed the residential development is delivered by a specialist bespoke builder who cares about character and environment and can deliver way more than identikit boxes.

Can you imagine the furore if the Science Park went in for planning today? But back in 1950 Alderley Park Hall was a derelict ruin that no-one knew what to do with and it was sold to ICI along with 400 acres for the sum of £55,000.

It also came with permission for development and became the headquarters of ICI’s new pharmaceutical division which sprawled round the man-made lake. This is where beta-blockers were discovered and developed by the late Sir James Black, the Nobel Prize-winning physician and pharmacologist.

Astra Zeneca took over the site and it became an acclaimed centre for cancer research and cancer beating treatments which at its peak had 3,500 staff.

There is now a six week consultation period until mid February and you can see the full draft framework here.

 

Alderley ParkAlderley Park

 

*MSP is a public-private partnership between majority stakeholders  Bruntwood and the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Manchester, Cheshire East and Salford City Councils.

HOW Planning and Planit-IE are advising MSP on the masterplanning of Alderley Park.

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AnonymousJanuary 13th 2015.

All the housing built on this site will be 'affordable'. Builders do not build houses which nobody can afford to buy. What would be the point?

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