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£20m Jodrell Bank heritage centre set for green light

Date added: 15/12/2017

Proposals to create a £20.5m heritage exhibition and visitor centre in a unique new earth dome-shaped building at Jodrell Bank, which will tell the story of how a rural site in Cheshire became the home of radio astronomy, are on the verge of securing the green light.

Cheshire East Council will consider a full planning application by the University of Manchester to build the new visitor attraction on the Granada Arboretum at Jodrell Bank, which is part of the university, at its strategic planning board on Wednesday, 20 December 2017.

The proposal relates to the First Light Project, an architecture-led scheme that features a new earth dome-shaped building providing more exhibition space, an auditorium, an outdoor café area, an office, education space and toilets. This building, which will be 79 metres wide at the base and eight metres high, will incorporate paths on the roof so that visitors can walk to the top where they will find a sundial on a flat platform. It is intended to complement Jodrell Bank's existing visitor facilities, which already attract approximately 150,000 visitors per year.

An accompanying design and access statement by international architectural practice HASSELL said that the scheme aims to address the fact that "much of the current exhibition and interpretation material throughout the site is focused on radio astronomy and the science around it, with little emphasis on the inspiring story of how a rural site south of Manchester became known as its home".

The project has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund of approximately £12m while a further £4m was committed in the 2017 Autumn Budget.


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