Waters wins consent in Wilmslow

Cheshire East Council has approved plans by the US scientific group Waters Corporation to build a mass spectrometry headquarters on the 37-acre site of the aborted Wilmslow Office Park.

Waters plans, subject to a range of conditions, include:

  • A two-storey 218,647 sq ft building consisting of offices, laboratories, storage, research and development and distribution, a staff restaurant and gym on the site which fronts the A538 Altrincham Road, three miles south of Manchester Airport
  • Creation of a roundabout on Altrincham Road for site access
  • 496 parking spaces
  • Extensive landscaping and the creation of cycle paths for local residents
  • Demolition of dilapidated Stamford Lodge
  • Building of a 914 sq ft roosting barn to relocate bats

Cheshire East said the 37-acre site has lain disused for more than 10 years.

Brian Smith, vice president of MS business operations at Waters, said: "I am very pleased that we now have the ability to move our high-technology business forward and provide a world class centre for innovation in mass spectrometry.

"Science is such a major contributor to the history of this region and now we can write a new chapter in this rich heritage with our custom-built headquarters in Wilmslow.

"We would like to extend our thanks for the input we received at the public consultations in January from the residents and local businesses in the town and to Cheshire East for its ongoing support."

Cllr Jamie Macrae, cabinet member with responsibility for prosperity, added: "This development represents a significant and greatly-welcome investment in Cheshire East, which will help to secure the borough's economic growth and future prosperity.

"It will relocate 500 jobs to Wilmslow – these hi-tech, high 'value-added' jobs are exactly the kind that the council is keen to attract to help grow and develop a successful and sustainable Cheshire East economy.

"The proposed building is also impressive, as it employs some of the most hi-tech and sustainable construction techniques in its design."

As part of the planning conditions, Waters is also making a financial contribution to the enhancement of facilities at the nearby Jim Evison playing fields, funding for a footpath and pedestrian and cycle route and a plan to manage the site's landscape and wildlife habitat for 15 years.

Terry Shortt, vice president of worldwide manufacturing and quality and compliance at Waters Corporation, said: "We remain committed to the sustainability of the project and protecting the local flora and fauna.

"The building itself will be constructed to the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methods 'very good' standard. We will also have a purpose-built home for the local bat population and will refurbish the sunken garden from the original lodge."

The work is expected to start by the end of August and be completed by 2013.

Waters bought the site from Royal Bank of Scotland in a deal understood to be at a price in excess of £5m and subject to Waters gaining consent form Cheshire East Council for the development.

RBS had planned to develop offices on the site in a joint venture with Rok Developments before the latter went into administration. There is an existing planning consent, won by Rok in 2007, for 220,000 sq ft of offices that expires in August this year.

Waters will relocate staff from four sites in south Manchester to the new base. The company has offices in Floats Road, Wythenshawe; Atlas Park, Wythenshawe; Crewe Road, Wythenshawe and Tudor Road, Altrincham.

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Surely demolishing the Victorian House on site is a cop out. It is historically important, and could be used for a variety of uses. There is plenty of remaining land to build on. Demolition shows a complete lack of imagination.

By A Boddies