MSP must ‘act quickly’ at Alderley Park

MANCHESTER Science Partnerships (MSP) must “act quickly” to retain AstraZeneca talent at Alderley Park before the opportunity is lost.

That’s according to a development framework produced by Cheshire East Council which says the move of research teams by drugs giant AstraZeneca to Cambridge is six months ahead of schedule.

MSP acquired the 400-acre site last year and it has pledged to maintain the facility as a world class bioscience and research centre by fostering start-ups and attracting large occupiers.

It is proposing to invest £107m over 10 years to improve the site, re-purpose buildings, decommission redundant facilities and invest in both maintenance and improvement of key assets.

The Cheshire East document said MSP was looking to release some areas for development to raise funds to support the establishment of a life sciences park. The authority has produced a development framework to provide planning guidance which it had originally intended to include in the local plan that was rejected by a government inspector late last year.

It said: “It is critical that work is undertaken to remodel the site without delay so that talent and skills associated with AstraZeneca can be redeployed on site before becoming dissipated and to ensure that the world class facilities on
site are maintained and do not become obsolete.

“As a result, MSP have expressed a need to bring forward Phase 1 of their investment strategy and deliver a significant capital investment to maintain and upgrade existing assets by the end of 2015.

“In line with this, it is understood that MSP need to be on site with their first phase of capital investment by the end of 2015, to ensure that the vacated space is remodelled in a timely manner and is not left vacant. Not only will this prevent the decline of the facilities, but it will also ensure that there is enough high quality space to offer to those former AstraZeneca staff not moving to Cambridge, so as to prevent their loss to employment opportunities elsewhere.”

The plan is for AstraZeneca to lease back the site until it has completely moved out in 2016. It will retain around 700 staff, down from 3,600, but these will be administrative roles. The group also has 2,000 employees at a factory in Macclesfield.

Cheshire East acquired 10% of Alderley Park and 3% of MSP in the deal which was said to be worth £30m-£50m. It has already been working with AstraZeneca on space for early stage technology companies under the BioHub brand.