Green light given for £105m centre of scientific excellence

POLITICIANS have hailed the “confidence boost” for the region’s key science and technology sector after a £105m centre for scientific excellence was approved.

Planning permission has been granted for a £105m development by Reckitt Benckiser in Hull.

Reckitt Benckiser, the company behind antiseptic Dettol and sore throat lozenges Strepsils, said they were delighted to be given approval for the largest investment in their history, just two months after submitting plans to Hull Council.

The three-storey, state-of-the-art facility on Dansom Lane in the city - where Reckitt & Sons first started 175 years ago - will safeguard jobs for the existing 1,200 employees and will create up to 100 new roles.

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The firm said a “broad range of research and development positions would become available retaining not only current jobs, but also to attract global scientific talent to East Yorkshire and provide opportunities for science graduates across the region.”

It will also create a large number of construction jobs.

East Hull MP Karl Turner said: “I am absolutely delighted with the fact that we have got this investment and it obviously secures good quality jobs in the constituency and hopefully encourages other investment into the city, particularly in the east.”

Council leader Coun Steve Brady, who represents Southcoates West, in east Hull, said: “They are a valued company and have been a prominent part of Hull for many years. It is certainly a statement of the value they have in Hull. I know many countries were fighting for this project and to have Hull chosen is a real confidence boost.”

Hull beat off rival RB sites including in India, Singapore, China and the US, to become the global technical innovation hub for products like Nurofen and Strepsils.

Speaking last year chief executive Rakesh Kapoor said the move was a “statement of intent to change the game” in consumer health and should attract talent both locally from the University of Hull and globally.

He said: “We have had history in Hull, a history of success. We decided on Hull because we feel that Hull not only has the technical history, the talent, also we believe we can bring better infrastructure, better technical capabilities for people to do even better.”

The project secured £6m from the Regional Growth Fund.

Once completed it will be one of RB’s largest healthcare development centres and will complement other major R&D facilities in Germany, Italy, India, Thailand and the USA.

Work to prepare the site has already got underway and the facility will be up and running in 2018

Dr Sharon James, RB Senior Vice President for Global R&D said they were delighted at the speed of the decision.

She added: “This decision is the product of a lot of hard work by some very committed people and marks an important milestone in the development process. With the support of the council, we can now move forwards with selecting and finalising the contractor who will help to create and build the new facility over the next couple of years.”

Reckitt & Sons started in 1840 when Isaac Reckitt rented a starch mill on Dansom Lane. In the 1850s the business began manufacturing laundry blue using ultramarine, and then black lead and these together with starch became the mainstay of the business.