Following granting of planning permission by Stevenage Borough Council for the £66 million development which will become the European Manufacturing Headquarters of Autolus, a ground breaking ceremony was held on 8 November at the former Marshgate car park site.
This marks a milestone for the start of the works and was attended by representatives from Stevenage Borough Council, Autolus USA and UK, Reef Estates, UBS, Stevenage Development Board, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Stevenage Bio-Science Catalyst.
Paul Witcombe, the LEP's Head of Enterprise & Innovation, attended as the LEP was involved with the partnership which helped secure this inward investment in Stevenage rather than the United States.
The development by Reef Estates received planning permission in August 2021, with work planned to start immediately and scheduled for completion in 2023.
Autolus, a biopharmaceutical company listed on the NASDAQ, are focused on the development of precisely targeted, controlled and highly active T Cell therapies that are designed to offer cancer patients substantial benefits over existing standards of care and this facility will be the UK’s first purpose built CAR T- Cell manufacturing unit and will assist in the growth of the Cell and Gene therapy cluster in Stevenage (currently the third largest in the world).
Cllr Sharon Taylor OBE, Leader of Stevenage Borough Council said: “I am very proud that Stevenage is home to a world-leading life science cluster already. This development will further enhance this and cement our standing as a leading STEM location within the UK. Autolus’s work perfectly complements the activities of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult already in Stevenage. We look forward to continuing to support this work with the life sciences sector to put Stevenage on the national map for the life science sector."
Cllr Sandra Barr, Mayor of Stevenage said: “As we celebrate our 75th anniversary this year, it gives me great pleasure to see this happening right here in the town centre, bringing with it enormous benefits for the people of Stevenage, which includes employment and apprenticeship opportunities for young people – our next generation.”
Cllr John Gardner, Executive Portfolio Holder for Regeneration & Environment at Stevenage Borough Council, added: “Today’s event marks an important milestone for Autolus developing their European Manufacturing Headquarters in Stevenage, and a key moment for our regeneration and Towns Fund programme. We’ve retained part of the Marshgate site as a car park to serve the needs of the local community and I look forward to this development bringing footfall to our town and supporting the local economy.”
Olivia Drew at UBS-AM REPM commented: “We are very excited to partner with Reef on a GMP-led facility in the centre of Stevenage, a globally recognised hub of scientific innovation. Stevenage offers all of the key structural drivers we see as being necessary to support a thriving life sciences eco-system, as demonstrated by Autolus’ significant commitment to the area. We would also like to thank Stevenage Borough Council and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for their ongoing support of this development.”
Will Rohleder, Development Director at Reef Group said: “This has been fantastic public /private partnership to realise such an important facility in Stevenage town centre. Autolus have decided to locate their manufacturing HQ in the town creating over 400 jobs and committing their future to Stevenage, which is experiencing significant investment and regeneration.
We look forward to working with all parties to complete this first phase and bring forward our wider life science vision for the town centre over the next few years.”
The 81,000 sq. ft. building will focus on strong environmental credentials and is targeting BREEAM excellent rating Through net-zero carbon emission design that uses heat source pumps and heat recovery systems, significantly reducing waste through the use of 5D BIM technology and, through hybrid construction with 75% offsite manufactured content, resulting in significantly reduced carbon emissions.
Adrian Hawkins OBE, Chairman, Stevenage Development Board said: “From our first meeting with Autolus in January 2021, the Regeneration Team at Stevenage Borough Council have demonstrated both their clear ability, knowledge and speed in proposing sites and several contractors to Autolus which has since resulted in the swift progress to planning permission, now approved, for the new Autolus HQ, to be developed by Reef.”
Dr Sally Ann Forsyth OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst said: “At Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) we have built a world class cluster of excellence accelerating the translation of cutting-edge science to improve the health and quality of people’s lives. We are delighted to continue our relationship with Autolus, which has been based at SBC since 2018, as it moves onto its next stage of development working with Reef and further strengthening the cluster here in Stevenage.”