A multi million pound scheme to create a world-class ‘innovation campus’, making south Warwickshire an international centre of excellence in horticultural, automotive and medical research, has cleared its first planning hurdle.
Warwick University is ranked among the top ten universities in the UK and consistently is among the top 100 in the world. It wants to develop the centre at its Wellesbourne campus – and there are hopes that it can link in with ambitious plans to upgrade the nearby Wellesbourne airfield.
The Masterplan – which Stratford district council’s Cabinet has agreed can go out to public consultation – covers three main sectors: crop science, agri-tech and life sciences, automotive and autonomous vehicles and medical services.
Advanced R&D facility
The aim is to divide the 450-acre site into a network of ‘innovation hubs – four of them carrying out R & D, the fifth a community area with playing fields, a nursery and residential accommodation. According to the Masterplan, the hubs are “intended to promote interaction, synergy and collaboration between organisations and acting as convergence points for exchange of ideas and knowledge”.
The university’s vision for the campus is to “offer a unique opportunity for the university to bring a major advanced research and development facility to south Warwickshire. “By uniting key areas of Warwick’s research and teaching with strong business networks, the university has the potential to build a second campus of international significance.”
In the pipeline
Plans for an innovation centre on the Wellesbourne campus have been in the pipeline since 2017. The campus has had a long history of research relating to agriculture. It became the Horticultural Research International in 1990 then, in 2004, the university became associated with the site and in 2010 the School of Life Sciences was formed following the merger of Warwick Horticulture Research International and the Department of Biological Sciences.
The campus is also home to major international companies like Lotus Cars, Rimac Automobil and Corteva Agriscience. These will be absorbed into the new campus.
Link to airfield plans
The public consultation will run until the end of March, after which comments will be assessed and presented to the Cabinet along with a final draft for approval in June or July. The university has not said when work will start.
Stratford District Council Deputy Leader Councillor Darren Pemberton said: “This draft masterplan outlines a clear strategic policy framework for the development of University of Warwick’s Wellesbourne campus as a key innovation and economic growth site for Stratford district and the wider south Warwickshire economy”.
“This work alongside that to see an employment and aviation re-development of the adjoining Wellesbourne aerodrome will create the capacity for the university’s near market and research activity to grow substantially in line with SDC’s emerging economic strategy.” Last year the owners of Wellesbourne airfield submitted plans to the Civil Aviation Authority to build a new runway to replace the old ones, to improve the airfield’s “viability”.
The combined impact of both schemes, if they do go ahead, will be felt not just throughout south Warwickshire but across the region, potentially leading to dozens of new businesses and hundreds of new jobs.
The Masterplan also has full details on how to comment on line or by post. There will also be two public consultation events Wellesbourne University Innovation Campus, Wellesbourne, CV35 9EF on Tuesday 28 February 2023 from 3:00pm to 7:00pm and Wellesbourne Library, Kineton Road, Wellesbourne, CV35 9NF on Monday 6 March 2023 from 9:30am to 12:30pm.