Work to trasform derelict buildings and unused land in the west of Lincoln to become a science and innovation park is moving fast, with the first offices ready for use in August.
As previously reported, work began on the £14 million Lincoln Science and Innovation Park, the result of a partnership between Lincolnshire Co-op and the University of Lincoln, in August 2013.
The 80 hectare site includes Minster House and Becor House, now called Joseph Banks Laboratories, plus Charlotte Scott House and land nearby, which will be developed in future phases of the park.
Giving a tour to The Lincolnite, director of the park Tom Blount explained that despite a link with the university, the park puts an emphasis on encouraging business into the area.
He explained the Think Tank, which already exists on the site, made a good anchor for the new park, which uses the close proximity of the university, its researchers and businesses nearby to hopefully create even more innovation across the county, describing the project as an “engine for prosperity”.
As well as the School of Pharmacy, School of Chemistry and animal behaviour team making use of facilities, the park will support a range of businesses, from engineering to electronics and other technology and science areas.
The new building has commercial and academic laboratories, meeting areas, offices and relaxation areas.
Minster House will act as a home to the animal behaviour team, with state of the art facilities built for the animals with welfare in mind.
The recently acquired Charlotte Scott House will play home to both commercial units and temporary space for the School of Physics.
Businesses will have access to state of the art facilities, including superfast broadband, which Tom Blount hopes will be ultraband speed — a first for Lincoln.
The park is also keen to be good neighbours to the industrial area surrounding it along Beevor Street and Green Lane, providing them with support.
To open up Think Tank and businesses based in other areas of the park, Green Lane will be transformed completely with a pedestrianised zone, featuring a large green space and cafe.
This lawn will then be used for a variety of events as well as relaxation space, such as BBQs, music events or meetings, where businesses, academics and even students and residents can integrate and develop relationships.
Old to new
While adding modern facilities to the site, the science park aims to preserve the old industrial buildings in the area, some of which date back to the early 1900s.
The Joseph Banks Laboratories building was started in 1936, but was not completed until 1952 due to World War II. Despite this, the area still went on to become world renowned for engineering.
“50 years ago, this was the heart of engineering, but the story of this site has been sad over the last couple of years as it’s been in decline,” explained Tom Blount.
“We want to redevelop the site for the next century, with a hub for highly skilled, new jobs — not just through the university but through local business too.
“We want to make it a site for businesses where academia is welcome, rather than vice versa, which happens on other parts of the university campus.”
The original buildings on site have been completely gutted of the old offices and meeting rooms and replaced with the new facilities, but the outer shell and core are now complete, which cost £8 million.
The next stage is to work on the fittings, costing around £7 million, in time for September, when the first students will be able to use the facilities.
Businesses meanwhile can expect to use the offices on the park from August.
Despite large alterations to the site, Tom Blount is gathering a range of media from archives about the site, and will host an exhibition event for residents, in which they can share opinions of the project as well as memories from working on site in the past.
While residents’ support in still a work in progress, the project has been welcomed by a range of local business and councils.
The City of Lincoln Council includes it within its strategic masterplan for the city, due to its potential to create jobs.
Tom Blount believes that the park could create up to 600 new and existing jobs over the next five years through just phase one of the development.
Finally, the park waits to reinvest money made into Lincoln and Lincolnshire economy, through funding business support projects to setting up business funding pots and holding “meet the buyer” style events.
Later in the year, the park will host an innovation conference aimed at local businesses of all sizes.
To learn more about the upcoming events, or if you’re a science or technology business interested in office space or partnerships, contact Director Tom Blount, at [email protected].