Major expansion could see 4,000 jobs at Loughborough University science park
Plans for a £200 million "business village" which could create 4,000 hi-tech jobs have been unveiled.
Loughborough University yesterday announced proposals for a major expansion of its science and enterprise park.
It hopes to attract leading motor, sporting, engineering and pharmaceutical companies to the extended site, which will stretch westwards along the A512/Ashby Road.
The university aims to secure the funding it needs to create the extra space from both the private and public sector.
The county council and Charnwood Borough Council are set to provide £2 million towards the building of an innovation centre and a second building, which should be ready within two years as part of the first phase of the development.
The university hopes this would then kick-start further investment in the site.
Professor Steve Rothberg, pro vice-chancellor of Loughborough University, said the aim was for the expanded park to attract hi-tech companies from outside the area, as well as provide space for innovative businesses created by academics at the university.
"We are speaking to many companies about this," he said.
"We hope to attract inward investment."
Prof Rothberg said providing the extra space would make it easier for fast-growing firms created within the university to stay local.
The science park already houses dozens of businesses, employing 2,000 people.
The first phase of the expansion, which would take in 19.2 acres, should be complete within 10 years. The 54-acre second phase has a timescale of 15 to 25 years.
Councillor David Slater, leader of Tory-run Charnwood Borough Council, said the plans were a major boost for Loughborough's economy.
"This is probably the greatest news story I've been part of in 12 years as a councillor," he said. "This is good news for the people of the borough because it creates 4,000 jobs, but there will also be other jobs in service and supply businesses.
"Because of the economic uplift this will bring, people will be able to spend more at shops and restaurants."
Max Hunt, leader of Leicestershire County Council's opposition Labour group, represents the area covered by the university.
He said the near-empty 69-acre AstraZeneca site to the north of Loughborough would be competing with the park to attract hi-tech businesses.
"Expansion of the science park would be positive, but it needs to be backed up with a deliverable business plan," he said. "Bringing employment back to the AstraZeneca site would be my priority."
Phase one of the science park expansion has outline planning consent. Phase two is subject to planning permission.