The GSSArchitecture design for the Catesby Innovation Centre has recently been submitted for detailed planning permission to Daventry District Council. GSS is delighted to be working with Aero Research Partners and Stepnell Ltd on the project, which is part of the Catesby Aero Research Facility (CARF). This is a unique project based around a disused railway tunnel in Northamptonshire which is likely to become a worldwide benchmark for aerodynamic testing, capable of providing accurate and affordable full scale aerodynamic performance data. The 2740m long tunnel will allow full scale vehicle testing in constant conditions due to the naturally stabilised environment generated from being underground.
The tunnel project secured detailed planning permission in 2017 to restore and convert the disused railway tunnel into the test facility, and to build a technology park adjacent. The Innovation Centre is a key part of the development, providing a ‘hub’ facility that will bring together the automotive manufacturers, suppliers, service providers, SMEs and academia into one place to focus on collaboration and innovation around vehicle testing and development. The design of the building, based on a Victorian engine shed and station yard, draws on the site’s heritage, whilst complementing the rural surroundings on the outskirts of the village of Charwelton.
The CARF development will help to position the South East Midlands as the central place to commercialise new technology, bringing in and generating more of the innovation and R&D strengths of the universities and businesses within the Oxford-Milton-Keynes-Cambridge Growth Corridor. It will help to maximise and promote high-tech development and the high value specialisms that the area has in next generation vehicles and logistics.
The Catesby Research and Innovation Centre will provide SME’s with the facilities and advice that they need to develop ideas into pre-production products that can be tested at vehicle level. It will also enable high performance technology start-ups and early growth businesses to co-locate next to the tunnel testing facility encouraging enterprise and innovation. The larger units on the surrounding science park will provide grow on space for businesses that graduate from the innovation centre. Companies will be tackling similar problems and people from OEMs, SMEs and academia will be meeting spontaneously in an informal environment where they swap experiences or bounce around ideas, which is something that happens rarely in relationships on a global scale. The centre will accommodate a café, meeting spaces and collaborative working areas alongside rentable offices and workshop space, so also providing a community space for the local residents.