A UNIVERSITY has revealed details of a £100m investment programme for its Cirencester campus this morning.
The Royal Agricultural University announced today plans to establish an Innovation Village, which will be a “UK first” for developing sustainable food production solutions.
The university says the proposed 29-acre site will house a community of “entrepreneurs” and “policymakers” working to address the major global challenges that we all face.
Their plans for the new site, includes research and education facilities, incubator and grow-on space, live and work units, as well as a hotel and conference centre.
Last year the university said the proposed scheme would include an 80-bed-hotel, a farm shop and restaurant – however a spokesperson said “plans have since moved on”.
It comes as the university announced in December it had won £5.8 million of funding to upgrade its facilities.
The university says it will be working with local residents and stakeholders to shape the proposals with a view to submitting a planning application to Cotswold District Council later this year.
Outlining the concept at today’s launch event, RAU Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter McCaffery said: “A first for Gloucestershire – and indeed the UK – we are delighted to be working with the support of Cotswold District Council, GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership, Gloucestershire County Council, and the Department for International Trade to establish a rural Innovation Village here at the RAU, the UK’s global agricultural university.
“A £100M project, centred on supporting industry, food producers, farmers and landowners in developing new innovative practices while protecting land health and building resilience in rural communities, our Innovation Village will turbo-charge SME agri-tech enterprise activity with a distinctively rural feel.
“We anticipate we will increase the RAU’s current contribution of £52m to the local and regional economy by half as much again over five years when the project is up and running.”
The university says the Innovation Village has the opportunity to impact globally, addressing issues such as climate change, sustainable land use and food production, biodiversity loss, and heritage management.
The initiative, which has a Gross Development Value of between £80 and £100m and has already been backed by the Department of International Trade, Gloucestershire County Council, and GFirst LEP.
It is hoped that, in the first five years of operation, the new Innovation Village will double the current new business output of Farm491 and the Growth Hub as well as providing skills, training, employment, and affordable housing, targeted towards improving retention of 16 to 24 year-olds.
The design process is being led by Architype from Passivhaus Architect and will be “carbon-neutral, rich in nature and inspires innovation through its environment.”
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