Funding boost for new Jodrell Bank ‘live science’ centre

May 21st, 2010

jodrell14bt7031The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and the Northwest European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) today confirmed funding of £3.1 million to kick-start the development of a new Science Discovery Centre at Manchester’s famous Jodrell Bank Observatory.

The announcement coincides with confirmation that the exciting redevelopment project has been granted planning permission by Cheshire East Council, meaning that work could start on site as soon as next month.

An investment of £2.1 million will be made by the NWDA and £1 million by ERDF in the Northwest. An additional £600,000 of funding will come from The University of Manchester; the iconic telescope is part of the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy.

The new-look centre is predicted to attract thousands of extra visitors to the Observatory every year and will help to generate an additional £26 million for the regional economy over the next decade.

The project includes a Planet Pavilion entrance building with an orientation centre and stylish glass-walled café with spectacular views of the Lovell telescope, a Space Pavilion for exhibitions and events as well as an education space and landscaping of the Arboretum to create a new Galaxy Maze and a Space Garden. It aims to inspire budding young scientists and showcase cutting-edge research ‘as it happens’.

The Planet Pavilion is set to open by the end of the year and all work will be completed by summer 2011.

Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive of the NWDA, said: “Jodrell Bank is already an icon in the Northwest and a visitor attraction in its own right, but it has the potential to attract many more national and international visitors to the region. This investment will help create a richer, more inspiring visitor experience which is more fitting to this beacon of science and research.”

Dr Teresa Anderson, Director of the Jodrell Bank Visitor Centre Project, said: “This is a really important milestone for us and we’re absolutely delighted that we will be able to take our project forward this year in partnership with the NWDA.

“Alongside redeveloping our facilities we will be taking the opportunity to revitalise our visitor programme, and look forward to welcoming lots of new people to Jodrell Bank in the future.”

Cheshire East Councillor, Jamie Macrae, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Prosperity said: “May I offer my congratulations to everyone at Jodrell Bank for securing this funding. It remains an important landmark not only for Cheshire East but for the UK.

“Now that planning permission has been granted, I am sure the Discovery Centre will boost Jodrell Bank’s place as a cornerstone of scientific endeavour and a vital establishment for research and education.”

The development has strong support from Sir Bernard Lovell, founder of the Jodrell Bank Observatory and creator of the Lovell Telescope, who lives nearby.

Sir Bernard Lovell said: “As the founder of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, I am delighted to hear that the development of new visitor facilities will go ahead.

“The very modern design that has been developed reflects the fact that the work of Jodrell Bank is at the forefront of research into astrophysics. The new facilities will pass on the spark of inspiration to the school pupils who are the scientists of the future. I look forward to this development going ahead very soon.”

Current visitor facilities will be kept open as much as possible as the development goes ahead – with a fully booked schools programme continuing in the existing marquee, which will also host a number of events for the public and ‘Friends’ of Jodrell Bank.

Astronomers will continue to carry out observations and world-class science while the redevelopment work takes place.

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