Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre secures planning permission
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Vale of White Horse District Council has granted planning permission for the highly specialist facility that will house the UK’s Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC).
VMIC, a not for profit organisation based at Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, will provide the country’s first bespoke strategic vaccine development and manufacturing capability. In an unusual move, the district council allowed construction of the facility to begin whilst simultaneously processing the planning application because of the critical nature of the facility and the role it will play in manufacturing vaccines for COVID-19 and beyond. Under normal circumstances, planning approval and construction for a new development of this scale would take years, with construction beginning only when planning permission had been granted.
Dr Matthew Duchars, Chief Executive Officer of the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, said: “We are extremely grateful to all the teams involved in working together to secure planning permission by moving at such a phenomenal speed. This decision by the Council gained us three critical months in our race to build a pandemic capable vaccine manufacturing facility, during which time we were able to go from a grass covered site to completion of the superstructure.”
Chris Lucas, Chief Operating Officer, VMIC, said: “By fast tracking the planning process and allowing us to start construction of the VMIC facility early, the district council has really enabled us to accelerate the pace of this project. Their support and collaborative approach has contributed significantly towards us meeting our deadline of opening in summer 2021 – a year ahead of schedule.”
An additional government grant of £93million was awarded to VMIC in May 2020 with the purpose of expanding the facility’s capabilities and fast tracking the build of the 7,400 m2 (footprint) state-of-the-art facility and bringing forward operational readiness to 2021, a year head of the original scheduled date. Alongside this, VMIC has invested in more technology to increase its manufacturing capacity 20-fold, to be capable of producing 70 million pandemic vaccine doses in 4-6 months.
Including a new £38 million rapid deployment facility, The Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre has received a total public and private sector funding of £207 million.