Businesses have welcomed West Sussex County Council’s plans for a ‘world renowned’ science park on the former Horsham Novartis site.
The multi-million pound investment could create up to 1,000 jobs for Horsham as the county council looks to put West Sussex on the map as a leading European centre for the health and life sciences sector.
Pharmaceutical giant Novartis ceased operations in Horsham in June 2014 and while 160 homes are being built north of Parsonage Road, the company has been exploring options to secure a scientific and medical legacy when selling the southern part of the site.
West Sussex is already home to more than 90 businesses in the health and life sciences sector and Louise Goldsmith, leader of WSCC, said developing the site fits in with one of the county council’s three key priorities in supporting the economy.
Mike Hannay, vice president and general manager of Horsham-based Fisher Clinical Services UK, said: “This is fantastic news for Horsham and West Sussex, building as it does on the scientific heritage of our area.
“The new science and business park is an important step in enhancing our county’s role in the development of innovative new medicines and healthcare technologies.”
Johan Sedihn, chairman of Crawley-based Elekta Limited, added: “These are exciting times for West Sussex with another strategic investment in the region. Following hot on the heels of the announcement of Elekta’s own Cornerstone development, providing a state of the art technological and customer innovation centre, the county looks to be in fine shape as we maintain our lead in key scientific markets.
“West Sussex businesses have given the world so many global scientific innovations and it’s wonderful to see private and public sectors standing shoulder to should as we plan for the future.”
Negotiations could be completed by the summer and once finished WSCC would appoint a contractor to take the development forward.
Current plans would see the site cleared apart from the art deco building, which will be converted into housing, along with a third of the site, while the rest will be transformed into a science park for leading companies as well as smaller start-up businesses.
Mrs Goldsmith said: “Our vision is to create a world renowned centre of excellence building on the site’s respected history with Novartis.
“It will deliver a science and business park that will help stimulate further growth in the sector, provide high quality jobs for the county and provide support for small, innovative start-up businesses.”
Hugh O’Dowd, country president and general manager for United Kingdom & Ireland Novartis Pharmaceuticals, added: “This is good news for Horsham and its residents as West Sussex County Council intends to bring high skilled jobs to the area, as well as develop some local housing.
“If the new campus becomes a health and life sciences hub for the region as West Sussex County Council intend, it will also help to realise our ambition of leaving a scientific legacy at the site.”
Novartis was exploring the possibility of selling the site to the University of Brighton for a higher education campus, but proposals fell through due to a lack of funding last year.
The move was also welcomed by Horsham MP Jeremy Quin. He said: ““We all want to ensure that Horsham grows as a vibrant commercial centre in its own right.
“The vision of a cluster of growing small companies, operating at the forefront of bio-medical science and using the site to create the high value jobs of the future is one we are all keen to embrace.”
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