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New visitor centre for Jodrell Bank

Plans have been submitted for a new ‘Discovery Centre’ at the site of the iconic Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank, part of the University of Manchester.

Capita Symonds is the project manager for the proposed scheme which is being designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios.

The redevelopment will be over more than 1,000m2, and will feature:

  • A ‘Planet Pavilion’ entrance building including an orientation centre and stylish glass-walled café with spectacular views of the Lovell telescope;
  • A ‘Space Pavilion’ incorporating a multi-purpose exhibition, events and education space;
  • Landscaping of the site’s 35 acre Arboretum to create a a ‘Space Garden’ as well as a ‘Galaxy Maze’ based on the shape of the Milky Way.

A formal planning application for the work has been submitted to Cheshire East Council and funding is being sought for the plans which are predicted to attract thousands of extra visitors to the site – part of the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy.

The development has strong support from Sir Bernard Lovell, founder of the Jodrell Bank Observatory and creator of the Lovell Telescope, and lives nearby. “As the founder of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, I am delighted to hear that there are plans to upgrade the facilities for visitors to the site.

“The very modern design that has been developed reflects the fact that the work of Jodrell Bank is at the forefront of research into astrophysics. The new facilities will pass on the spark of inspiration to the school pupils who are the scientists of the future. I look forward to this development going ahead very soon,” he said.

Jodrell Bank has been instrumental in numerous scientific discoveries, including providing the best test of Einstein’s theory of gravity - General Relativity. In 1957 the Lovell Telescope was the only telescope in the world powerful enough to track the rocket that carried the Soviet satellite Sputnik into space.

“Alongside plans to redevelop our facilities, we will be taking the opportunity to revitalise our visitor programme, and we look forward to welcoming lots of new people to Jodrell Bank in the future,” she adds.

Lord Keith Bradley, chair of the University steering group for the project, said: “The redeveloped facilities at Jodrell Bank will open our doors to even more people, allowing them to engage with the University’s world leading research - and inspiring young people to become the scientists of the future.”

If funding is found, the first building could be complete around 3-4 months after work begins on site, with all work completed within 12 months. Astronomers will continue to carry out observations and world-class science while the redevelopment work takes place, while consultation and feedback sessions on the plans have already been held for local residents and scientists working on the site.

Jodrell Bank has been instrumental in numerous scientific discoveries, including providing the best test of Einstein’s theory of gravity - General Relativity. In 1957 the Lovell Telescope was the only telescope in the world powerful enough to track the rocket that carried the Soviet satellite Sputnik into space.

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