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New plant growth facilities at the Botanic Garden: Notice

2 August 2004

In their Report to the University, dated 9 June 2003 (Reporter, 2002-03, p. 1024), on the proposed construction of plant growth and Herbarium buildings at the Botanic Garden for the Department of Plant Sciences, the Council reported that the plant growth element of the project was estimated to cost £6m and that full funding for this had been identified, with £5m coming from the SRIF-2 allocation and £1m which the Department had received as a contribution from a charitable foundation. The Report sought approval from the Regent House for construction of this building only since no funding had been secured for the Herbarium.

The Council recommended that

I. approval in principle be given for the construction of the plant growth building, as proposed in the Report;
II. the Treasurer be authorized to accept the first stage tender for a 2-stage Develop and Construct contract for the plant growth building, on advice from the Director of the Estate Management and Building Service, in order that a contractor might be appointed for Stage 1 of the process.

The Report noted that the Council proposed to publish a Notice giving further information about the project when the full details had been approved by the Planning and Resources Committee (PRC). The University approved the recommendations in the Report by Grace 3 of 6 August 2003.

Because the Botanic Garden has Grade II* registered landscape status, it was necessary to apply for approval of the proposals from English Heritage as well as for detailed planning permission from the City Council. Both of these approvals have now been obtained.

The PRC, at their meeting on 21 July 2004, received from the Department of Plant Sciences a Full Case Paper, at Stage 3 of the Capital Projects Process. The Full Case included a detailed business plan incorporating an analysis of the recurrent costs and how these would be met. In this plan it has been estimated that the cost of utilities, staff, and maintenance would increase by £222,500 a year, but that this would be more than offset by additional QR, research income, and programme grants averaging £435,000 a year over the first five years of the facility's use. An option appraisal was undertaken and this demonstrated that implementation of the project produced a sound financial case in comparison with maintaining the status quo. The PRC approved the Full Case for the project and building will commence in August 2004.

Funding has not yet been secured for the Herbarium and the Council intend to publish a further Report, seeking approval for this building, in due course when full funding has been identified.


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Cambridge University Reporter 11 August 2004
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