£350m biomanufacturing plant takes major step forward

Work can begin on a new pharmaceutical plant in Cumbria capable of employing 250 staff after it received planning permission.

Last week it was announced that drugs giant GSK is to close an existing site in Ulverston, which opened in 1948, within the next four years leading to the loss of 130 jobs. At its height the plant employed 2,000 staff.

It follows the sale by GSK of its cephalosporin antibiotics business to Sandoz.

However, new company Lake BioScience is proposing what it calls is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for the UK to secure its own manufacturing capability of modern medicines with its plans for a plot of land close to the GSK site.

Lakes BioScience has been formed by a team of UK industry experts, including several former GSK employees.

It aims to build, commission and qualify a £350m biomanufacturing plant to produce monoclonal antibodies – used to target a disease-causing organism – on a site just yards from GSK’s factory in Ulverston.

Pat McIver, director of Lakes BioScience, said: “We have an opportunity to build a new facility to produce modern medicines which will improve the UK’s resilience.

“But that door is not going to open itself. It’s going to take a collaborative effort across national, regional and local authorities and agencies to make it happen.

“We now have the planning permission in place from South Lakeland District Council for the groundworks and to get the site ready for construction.”

The company said it is “in an advanced state of readiness” to develop the site. It will submit a planning application for permission for above-ground work once it has secured its first contracts.