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Public Health England plans £400m science hub

Public Health England plans £400m science hub

Plans to create a new public health campus are progressing after Public Health England (PHE) recently completed the purchase of the former GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) site at Harlow.

The £400 million development will be a world-leading hub focussed on public health science, a government press release explains. It will provide a centre of excellence for research, health improvement and protection, while bringing together world-renowned scientists working to protect and improve the health of the nation.

The new laboratory complex will see the relocation of staff and facilities from other existing PHE locations, including Porton in Wiltshire and Colindale in north London. It will also take over the function of the current headquarters in central London. The result will be a central, modern facility that will enable PHE to continue its work efficiently and effectively.

Commenting on the project, PHE deputy chief executive Richard Gleave said: "Our move to Harlow will create a world-class science campus for public health, of international significance and real benefits for the local community."

He explained that the decision to buy the site followed careful consideration of the advantages and that it represents best value to British taxpayers.

"We are also responding to the local community’s desire to see PHE move to Harlow as soon as possible. We hope today’s announcement will be a massive boost to the town and surrounding area," he added.

The site and its assets were purchased for £25 million. Independent analysis carried out before the acquisition indicates that it provides 'extremely good value' for PHE's requirements, as well as the taxpayer.

PHE is now working to submit an outline planning application in the next few weeks. This will include the refurbishment of several current buildings and the construction of new ones. 

Work is expected to begin in 2019, and it's hoped that the project will be completed by 2024. When it's finished, around 2,750 people could be based at the science hub, and there's opportunity for further expansion of up to 3,250 workers.

Image credit: iStock/kasto80


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