New science building at university gets the go ahead

Artist sketch of one of the new labs in the proposed Life Sciences building (Photograph: Brick Visual)
Artist sketch of one of the new labs in the proposed Life Sciences building (Photograph: Brick Visual)

A new state-of-the-art Life Sciences building at the University of Sussex has been given the thumbs up by city planners.

The development at the Falmer-based university - which could create 600 jobs - was approved today (February 8) by Brighton and Hove City Council’s planning committee.

The proposed Life Sciences building  (Photograph: Brick Visual)

The proposed Life Sciences building (Photograph: Brick Visual)

Councillor Julie Cattell, chairman of the committee, said: “The Life Sciences department at Sussex has been responsible for pioneering research into diseases affecting all families such as dementia and cancer. So we’re really pleased to approve a modern new home for them which will become an asset to the city and to the country.”

The university said its School of Life Science is known for its high-quality teaching and ground-breaking research into conditions such as cancer and neurodegeneration, as well as driving major advances in areas such as ecology and conservation, neuroscience, and drug discovery.

The new building is set to encourage molecular biologists, zoologists, neuroscientists, pharmacologists and chemists to carry out research alongside each other to develop new scientific insight.

It will also boast modern laboratories to provide high-tech teaching spaces for students.

Inside the proposed Life Sciences building  (Photograph: Brick Visual)

Inside the proposed Life Sciences building (Photograph: Brick Visual)

The new building will include the use of glass, concrete, brick and green spaces that the institution is known for. Hawkins Brown Architects, which has taken on the project, said its designs will remain true to the vision of the university’s founding architect, Sir Basil Spence.

Set over five floors, the new development is set to be eco-friendly, with some green roofs to reflect its South Downs surroundings. The plans include four open courtyard spaces and an ‘internal street’, in nods to Spence’s original designs for the university.

In addition, the development will include a new Bio-Innovation Centre, which will be a hub for growing bio-medical businesses, strengthening the university’s partnerships with industry and creating more jobs in the region.

The centre has received £5.5 million in funding from the Government’s Growth Fund, recently being announced as one of only two projects in Brighton and Hove to get this investment - the other being plans for a new Brighton Centre at Black Rock.

Professor Michael Davies, pro-vice-chancellor for research at the University of Sussex, said: “This is fantastic news for the university, for science, and for the city and the region, creating jobs and boosting the local economy.

“By becoming a hub for bio-innovation, we will help to foster an emerging sector in the region, which will have a legacy for years to come.

“This new landmark building will enable us to teach the scientists of tomorrow, alongside producing ground-breaking research that changes people’s lives and makes local people proud.”

Professor Laurence Pearl, head of the School of Life Sciences, said: “Our new state-of-the-art building will ensure that we can continue to produce innovative, world-leading research for decades.

“Our School produces amazing scientists, including Nobel Prize winners, and continues to attract the very best researchers from all over the world to Brighton.

“The new building will enable our diverse teams of scientists to work more collaboratively alongside each other to make life-changing scientific discoveries.”

Some of the country’s leading scientists, including Nobel Prize-winner and director of the Crick Institute Professor Sir Paul Nurse, backed the plans for the new building.

Professor Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute, said: “The School of Life Sciences is highly regarded and rated as one of the best in the UK against a range of different parameters – from research impact, student experience and the quality of its teaching.

“It counts Nobel Prize winners and many unsung heroes in specialised disciplines as past and present members of staff.

“Having such a prestigious and world-class academic institution on the doorstep of Brighton and Hove is a major boon for the city and the South East.”

The School of Life Sciences at Sussex boasts two other Nobel Prize-winning scientists, Sir Harry Kroto and Sir John Cornforth.

Lady Margaret Kroto, widow of the late Sir Harry Kroto, said: “My husband received his Nobel Prize in Chemistry for research that was carried out when he was at Sussex, a testament to the institution’s tradition of academic scientific excellence.

“I am excited, therefore, to see the university’s campus being reimagined for the 21st century, so that it is best placed to continue its pioneering work.”

Former Brighton resident and friend of one of the university’s first vice-chancellor Lord Asa Briggs, Reginald Phillips CBE, left his entire estate to the University of Sussex.

The Trustee of his estate said: “As a trustee of the Reginald M Phillips Charitable Foundation, which has supported the School of Life Science’s work for a number of years, I am aware of the critical research being carried out to help further human understanding of biological and biomedical sciences.”

The development of the Life Sciences building is part of the University’s overall Campus Masterplan, which was approved by Brighton and Hove City Council in 2015.