WASDELL Group will appeal Swindon Borough Council's decision to reject its plans for a science park.

In August, the council voted 10 against five to turn down the company's proposal to set up a £56 million 100-acre site between the A419 and Wanborough which nearby residents were wholeheartedly against.

The pharmaceutical packaging firm had said the development would create hundreds of new jobs over the next two years and threatened to leave Swindon if it was rejected.

The application for the Swindon Science Park included facilities for research and development and high-tech manufacturing, as well as facilities to meet Wasdell’s own requirements for growth.

Wasdell's chairman Martin Tedham announced today that the company will appeal the application's refusal.

He said: “The increased Covid-related workload has meant we must focus on securing appropriate premises to accommodate the rapidly growing demand for our pharmaceutical products.

“We need to build our new facilities as soon as possible and press ahead with our vision of a science park for Swindon. The pandemic has shone a light on the vital role that pharmaceutical and life sciences play in all our lives.

"The Swindon Science Park will not only create a further 600 jobs from the day Phase 1 opens, but will also provide purpose-built, state-of-the-art facilities for partners and others to innovate and collaborate.

“In the last budget the UK government pledged £22bn for research and development by 2025. The combination of local expertise in life sciences and the emerging science park will mean that Swindon will be well-placed to benefit from some of that investment.”

Following the outbreak of the pandemic, Wasdell worked with providers of medical-grade antiseptic products to deliver to patients and the general public, and is managing the delivery of investigational medicinal products to patients taking part in clinical trials.

Since November, the company has increased its workforce in Swindon by more than 100 employees to meet these additional demands.

The company racked up a turnover of £52 million in 2019/20 and currently employs 750 people in Swindon alone.

It claimed that the borough had not identified suitable alternative sites for the science park after rejecting the plans, but a borough council spokesman said this was not true.

The spokesman added: “We are disappointed Wasdell has decided to appeal the decision to refuse the planning application.

"We will robustly defend the decision taken by the council’s planning committee as there are sound planning reasons why this development is not suitable in its current location.

“Wasdell’s PR firm claims in its media release that the council has been unable to identify suitable alternative sites. This is simply not the case.

"We have suggested a number of sites within the borough which the company could relocate to and have made introductions to landowners with sufficient employment land suitable for the company’s needs.

“We value Wasdell as a successful business and firmly believe there are credible alternatives for the firm’s needs within Swindon.”

The council's cabinet member of planning is Gary Sumner, who is also the ward member for Ridgeway, which includes Wanborough.

Speaking in that capacity, he said: "As the ward member for the Ridgeway ward, I have fully supported my residents in opposing this speculative application for an industrial led development on countryside, immediately adjoining the North Wessex Downs area of outstanding natural beauty.

"The applicant explicitly stated in August 2020 that he would not appeal the decision of planning committee.

“The committee decision was robust, emphatic and a sound decision.

“At the time it was suggested that speed was critical (this was in 2018). The appeal process on such a significant application, which has national implications in terms of the AONB and land use, is going to be lengthy and I will continue to support my residents in urging the planning inspector to reject this appeal.”