Published: 11:53, 14 November 2019
| Updated: 11:55, 14 November 2019
Tonbrige & Malling Borough Council has given the go-ahead for what's known as the 'advanced technology horticultural zone' - a sprawling scheme which will see four state-of-the-art glasshouses, energy centre and other facilities constructed at the site.
NIAB EMR - previously known as the East Malling Research centre - will see the greenhouses incorporate high-tech imaging, robotics, precision irrigation rigs, research-standard LED lighting and C02 systems to help scientists make advances in horticultural agronomy.
It is expected to release land it owns for residential development to fund the work.
Mananging director, Professor Mario Caccamo, said: “This is a major step forward in us delivering on our promise to continue world-class research, innovation and advances for the UK’s horticultural industry from here in Kent.
“There’s been a centre of plant research excellence at East Malling for more than a century and the opportunity to develop a modern scientific infrastructure will ensure our scientists will have the world-class facilities to retain and further strengthen our national and international capabilities.”
It is expected to generate in excess of £2.3m of additional research and development spend in the region.
Oliver Doubleday, chairman of East Malling Trust, added: “The existing research campus facilities and infrastructure are in need of upgrading to ensure their future scientific and commercial relevance. We have taken the decision to accelerate the investment in phase one to ensure Kent remains at the cutting edge of research and innovation. This will help our scientific community secure public and private sector funding by having access to excellent facilities.
“Once complete the campus will replace buildings that are no longer suitable and will quadruple the current laboratory and office space.”