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Prescott gives Wellcome scheme a second chance

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Deputy pm John Prescott has stepped in to grant developers an opportunity to justify building on 14ha of greenfield land after planning inspectors ruled they could not proceed, following an inquiry.

Drug firm Wellcome Trust has been told to justify the scale of its 39,000m2 development on a site of around 14ha of best agricultural land near Cambridge. Prescott has reopened a planning inquiry, but also demanded the drug company come up with a green commuter plan for its research and development laboratories.

The project, costing nearly £60 million, is designed by Sheppard Robson, and was to be built near existing science centres at Hinxton Hall near Cambridge. Prescott agreed with the inspector that the scheme ran counter to reducing car commuting distances and that major employment developments should be avoided in areas not well served by public transport.

However, the Government Office for Eastern Region said that in view of the national importance of the whole development, Prescott 'considers, unlike the inspector, that it would be inappropriate to reach a decision on your clients' appeal at this stage.'

Sheppard Robson's Tony Poole said a new inquiry was expected around March. 'We have no instructions to change the design.'

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