£96m university research development moves forward

Plans for a new £96m engineering and physical sciences building at the University of Leeds  moved forward yesterday.

Leeds City Council approved planning permission for a new £96m development, which will be constructed to create an integrated campus for engineering and physical sciences. With a completion date set for summer 2020, the development will relocate the School of Computing and School of Physics and Astronomy, bringing them together with colleagues in Chemistry and Engineering for the first time.

Once completed, the development will host around 2,000 staff and students, who will study across the spectrum of physics, chemistry, materials science, engineering and computer sciences. Positioned on a prominent location of the campus on Woodhouse Lane, the proposed 15,700m2 building is the largest, single-project investment ever to have been made on the university campus.

The new department building supports the priorities of the Government’s Industrial Strategy and forms a key part of the University’s £520m campus development programme.

Professor Steve Scott, dean of the faculty of maths and physical sciences at the university, said: “We are really pleased with the panel’s support for this development. This £96m is an investment in the city’s future too, along with our new innovation centre – Nexus – which will offer a gateway to help businesses access the university’s expertise and support.

“We want to attract world-leading researchers and the best students to come and live and work in the city, encourage high-tech growth, and boost Leeds’ reputation for enterprise, creativity and innovation.”

The investment will create state-of-the-art facilities that will “rival the best in the UK” and will include the new Bragg Research Centre for Advanced Functional Materials.

Professor Lisa Roberts, deputy vice-chancellor: research and innovation, said: “The Bragg Centre’s interdisciplinary culture and state-of-the-art facilities will support and attract the best minds at all levels, placing our exceptional standard of research on a global scale.”

The ‘superlabs’ concept behind the development will bring together existing strengths in applied and fundamental research to support interdisciplinary problem-solving research groups. They will tackle challenges facing the private sector and industry, from conception and theory to imaging, fabrication, application and translation.

Professor Scott added: “We are creating an exceptional environment to carry out cutting-edge research; the interplay between people, working culture, equipment and buildings will be central to creating the highest quality findings and original ideas.

“The quality of our research, brought about through leading facilities and the exceptional breadth of our academic staff will drive external partnerships and attract international support, leading to greater depth in funding bids and a rise in standards of research.”

The £96m complex is fully funded by the University of Leeds.