A multi-million pound extension project creating up to 300 jobs has been approved for the science park at the Bush Estate near Penicuik.
The three new offices/laboratory buildings at the Edinburgh Technopole site are expected to secure 150 to 300 jobs. The application by AG Technopole was approved by Midlothian Council’s planning committee subject to referral to Scottish Ministers.
Simon Hoad, project director for AG Edinburgh Technopole, said: “We could have up to 300 people in these buildings. We have a masterplan and this is the first phase. There are further phases planned where there will be far greater numbers employed on top of these numbers.
“We acquired Edinburgh Tenchopole just over a year ago. We know there are existing tenants that want to expand but there is nowhere for them to go unless we build an extension here. Otherwise they would have to move out of Midlothian, so the new buildings need to be built to let these companies grow.”
With phase one taking up 6000 square metres, Mr Hoad revealed there is potential to use up to 50,000 square metres, adding: “There are other companies both from and outside Midlothian that we are talking to who are very keen to be situated here because of the link with all the other businesses here. There is a pool of staff and a pool of knowledge, it’s a wonderful place to work.”
Transport Scotland require further time to consider the proposals’ impact on the trunk road network, which has prompted the referral to the Scottish Government.
Mr Hoad is keen to have the application signed off as soon as possible. He said: “The council has been kind enough to support the application, from our perspective we are looking for a quick and positive solution from the Scottish Government.
“Otherwise some of these companies will go elsewhere as there is nowhere for them to go in Midlothian.
“However, I’m optimistic we will get approval because I think everybody wants to see the existing campus in Midlothian expand and they realise it attracts other businesses to Midlothian. It really is one of the best scientific locations in the country if not in Europe. It just needs that additional support, I think it can grow very quickly.”
Midlothian Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for planning, Councillor Russell Imrie (Lab), said: “Approving this application will create jobs and cement Midlothian’s reputation as a centre for excellence in scientific research. We know there are companies which are keen to locate soon to Edinburgh Technopole. To ensure these opportunities are not lost the council is seeking to have a cross-party delegation meet with the relevant minister to seek a way forward as quickly as possible.“
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We are continuing to try to find a way to support the further development at Easter Bush Estate and are keen to better understand the council’s proposals and what impact they expect these to have on the trunk road network.”