The University of Chester has today launched the search for a development partner to engage in a multi-million pound Thornton Science Park opportunity that will see the Park grow further as an international centre for energy technology and innovation.
Formerly the site of the Shell Technology, Exploration and Research Centre, the 25-hectare (61.5 acre) site is part of the Cheshire Science Corridor and benefits from Enterprise Zone status. It is recognised as an international centre of industry and academic expertise, already home to 37 businesses, collectively employing more than 400 people.
From the point at which Shell transferred Thornton Science Park in 2014, the University’s intention has been to draw external financial interest, to enable it to reach its full potential.
The University of Chester, with the support of Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, has now initiated the search for a new development partner to invest in this strategically important site and help build Cheshire and Warrington’s credentials further as one of the nation’s most energetic areas of industrial innovation.
The development partner will work with the University of Chester as part of a long-term agreement and will commit to development at the site, bringing forward new commercial facilities to help create an internationally significant Science Park, with a focus on energy technology, sustainability and environmental sciences, automotive and advanced manufacturing.
Professor Tim Wheeler DL, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Chester said: “The University’s medium-term goal in acquiring such a distinctive and strategically important site as Thornton Science Park has been to seek further investment to expand the activities there, aligning perfectly with the aspirations for the region and beyond. Five years after the acquisition, and at the current phase in the site’s development, the time is now right to explore this and we look forward to the opportunity of working with a partner to realise the ambition and plans for Thornton as a strategic centre of academic and industrial excellence.”
Christine Gaskell CBE DL, Chair of Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Thornton Science Park has the potential to become one of the UK’s pre-eminent energy technology R&D parks, further supporting the LEP’s objective to become a clean-growth centre of expertise. Investment in this site is vital. It’s already thriving and has opportunity to deliver more highly skilled jobs, more space for research and significantly increase the available fit-for-purpose business space for companies locating on the Park.”
John Keyes, International Partner at Cushman and Wakefield said: “This is a very exciting opportunity for developers and investors. The chosen partner will work with a strong and established partnership between the University and the LEP. Thornton has significant potential and a partner will be able to build on the site’s existing assets and the established research and business base.”