Work gathers pace at site of major £16m development
PUBLISHED: 16:08 16 September 2020 | UPDATED: 17:45 16 September 2020
Demolition work has been completed as construction of a major £16m development continues.
Work started on a new marine science centre in the summer of 2018 as new headquarters were built for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) at its site on Pakefield Cliffs in Lowestoft.
The major renovations were due to be completed this summer but due to the coronavirus lockdown earlier this year, the works – which have seen Cefas’ current building, the former Grand Hotel, demolished and replaced with a new research centre and modern office building – were delayed.
A spokesman for Cefas said: “We are pleased to report that the development has continued to progress to plan, thanks to the great efforts from our people and contractors, led by Morgan Sindall.
“We did have some delays owing to lockdown earlier in the year but are making good progress in a Covid-safe environment; this includes for our contractors and those colleagues on site who deliver the work required in-person in our laboratories, as well as member of the public who are now once again able to use the clifftop path next to our site.”
With the demolition work all completed now, it has seen 90 per cent of the materials being sent for recycling.
The Cefas spokesman added: “We’re now finalising the build of the link between the new main building and the laboratories, due to finish in November.
“Landscaping of the eastern side is ongoing with the opening recently of the public footpath to link the promenade to the paths towards Pakefield church and beyond.”
While an opening date and unveiling of the new site has yet to be confirmed, amid the continuing coronavirus crisis, the spokesman added: “Given the circumstances we will need to consider when it is safe and appropriate to do a formal celebration, but we hope to be in a position to officially open in Spring 2021.”
Cefas has been based in Lowestoft since 1902, when it began as a small fisheries laboratory.
The centre now employs some 600 staff between Lowestoft, Weymouth, English ports, Kuwait and Oman.
After securing the final piece of funding in January 2018, back then Cefas said the new research centre could save it up to £2m a year in running costs and would safeguard 440 jobs at the Pakefield Road site as well as enabling it to employ 12 to 15 apprentices a year.
Over recent months staff at Cefas have been working from home, or seconded to other government agencies, while others have been carrying out “essential work” on site amid the continuing coronavirus crisis.
The Cefas spokesman said: “Understandably, it was a bit of a shock when the outbreak broke out and we are still working with staff and customers to better understand what the long term changes might be.
“Our people have responded brilliantly to the Covid-19 pandemic, and thanks to earlier investments in IT, the vast majority of colleagues have been able to work from home so we have been able to deliver to customers accordingly.
“Some of our people were temporarily seconded to other government bodies to directly assist in the response to the pandemic, helping in roles at Defra, the Government Office of Science, Department of Health and Social Care and the Department of Work and Pensions, amongst others.
“Other colleagues have been on site throughout the pandemic to undertake essential work on behalf of the government, particularly in our laboratories. “More recently, we have been able to create additional laboratory and office space that is Covid-secure based on the latest guidance; however this does mean reduced on-site working will continue until it is safe to bring more people back.
“We continue to monitor the health and wellbeing of colleagues and will continue to operate within the guidance of Government and with the health of our people forefront as we explore a flexible approach for the future.”
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