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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Space research centre approved

Out of this world' space centre coming to Newcastle as £50m university research hub approved

A “world class” space research centre is coming to Newcastle.

City bosses have signed off on the building of a £50 million Northumbria University facility that is expected to create hundreds of new jobs.

The North East Space Skills and Technology (NESST) Centre will overlook the Central Motorway and take over the site of the university’s vacant Wynne Jones Building, which has already been partly demolished to make way for the research, development, and education centre.

US aerospace and defence giant Lockheed Martin and the UK Space Agency have both made multi-million pound investments into the project, which was approved by Newcastle City Council’s planning committee on Friday afternoon.

It is hoped that the project, which was announced at the UK Space Conference in Belfast last year, will deliver more than 350 jobs and inject £260m into the North East economy over the next 30 years – and kickstart further developments in the space sector around the region.

The sloping seven-storey building in Ellison Place will feature satellite manufacturing and testing facilities, electrical and laser communications labs, lecture halls, offices, and a full-size replica rocket.

It is hoped that it will be ready to open in 2025.

Leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Kemp, said: “The UK’s space industry is worth more than £17.5 billion to the economy and employs 48,000 people in some of the most skilled and productive jobs.

“We are fortunate that Northumbria University is one of the leading universities for solar and space physics making it a valuable asset to the region, so naturally I am delighted that this space and technology centre has been approved by planning committee.

“It’s an exciting development that will support the creation of 350 jobs and inject £260m into the North East’s economy.”

Lockheed Martin will be an anchor tenant of the building and has invested £15m into the NESST Centre, with the UK Space Agency putting in £10m and the university matching both those sums.

Designs for the site were backed unanimously by the planning committee, where Lib Dem councillor Thom Campion described it as “out of this world”.

Prof John Woodward, faculty pro-vice-chancellor for engineering and environment at Northumbria University, said the centre would be a “game-changer for the UK space economy” and a “catalyst for the wider development of the UK space sector in the North East”.

He added: “This approval is extremely positive news for the university, the city of Newcastle and the wider North East region.”

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