Lowestoft marine science centre ready to begin redevelopment after securing £1.4m boost
- Credit: Archant
A major marine science centre on the East Anglian coast has had its request for a £1.4m grant to help renovate its ageing site approved.
The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) is in the final stages of preparation for a major renovation at its Lowestoft laboratory and headquarters, which would see its current, inefficient building demolished and replaced.
To assist the project – which was granted full planning permission in October – Cefas applied for a £1.4m grant from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through its capital growth programme.
The LEP board approved the funding application at its board meeting today, providing the final piece of funding for the £16m project.
Cefas says the new research centre could save it up to £2m a year in running costs compared with its current building, the former Grand Hotel, and will safeguard 440 jobs at the Pakefield Road site as well as enabling it to employ 12 to 15 apprentices a year.
The organisation, which is managed by Defra, says the construction work will provide up to 50 subcontractor jobs.
It had considered moving elsewhere in the town, but said the outlay on a purpose-built centre would deliver benefits including growth of 10-20%.
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Final costings for the project are expected in April, while the project itself is now due for completion in March 2019.
Doug Field, chairman of New Anglia LEP, labelled Cefas as a 'key part' of the region's 'world class' life sciences cluster.
'The project provides excellent value for money in terms of the growth and resilience it provides within our economy,' he said.
Cefas is also considered a strategic partner in Norfolk and Suffolk's Economic Strategy, which the LEP is helping to deliver.
Tom Karsten, Cefas chief executive said: 'This joint investment will now deliver an exciting new era of world class science for the marine and freshwater environment from our East Anglian base in Lowestoft.'
Launched in October, the LEP capital growth programme had £9m of funding to allocate to support projects which will help deliver the economic strategy. Of the 29 projects so far submitted, two have been approved, seven rejected and a further 20 decisions are pending.