Michael Beard is the Head of External Community Engagement for the Public Health England Science Hub Programme.
Work on our new £450 million public health science campus in Harlow has now begun. We are currently nearing the end of the first phase of demolition, beginning the earth work and underground preparation with a view to starting construction next year.
One of the questions we often get asked is why Harlow? One of the key reasons we chose Harlow was its strategic position in the London-Stansted-Cambridge life sciences corridor (LSCC).
There are 37 life sciences research institutes in the LSCC corridor and 1,400 life sciences businesses. Harlow sits at the very heart of this. We could see a real opportunity to build even better commercial and educational partnerships in Harlow.
We have already begun to forge links with local businesses and organisations. Since PHE announced plans for the campus in Harlow, it has been important for us to engage and involve the local community. Schools, colleges and universities, business, sport, voluntary and faith groups, residents’ associations as well as charities, we have tried to involve them all in our planning to deliver what will be the largest campus of its kind in Europe.
And throughout we have been struck not only by the welcome we have received but by the interest in our work and the possibility of working for us.
We hope our staff make the move to Harlow from our current sites in London and Wiltshire, but we are realistic that not everyone will come. Because of this, we have begun working with local schools, colleges and universities to consider training opportunities and apprenticeships which will help us build our future workforce.
It is important to stress not all the opportunities will be for scientists. There are bound to be vacancies across the organisation ranging from administration to HR and finance to catering.
We also hope our move will provide a significant boost to the local economy and that we can play an important role in the town’s future.
We plan to create a campus that both PHE and the people of Harlow can be proud of.