Plans to create a centre for higher education in Horsham would be a ‘fitting legacy’ for the former Novartis site.
The University of Brighton announced today it was in negotiation with the pharmaceutical giant over the purchase of the site off Wimblehurst Road after the company’s operations ceased in Horsham last year.
If agreed a high-quality centre for higher education could create an estimated 2,250 new jobs, bring £1.7bn of investment into the region over 10 years, and provide around 3,500 places for students.
Ron Crank, chief executive of the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We are extremely pleased that negotiations have commenced to bring new and exceptional training facilities to Horsham.
“This is a significant step forward in the process of exploring options for the site’s future.
“Throughout, Coast to Capital has sought to ensure that at least part of the site retains the location’s association with research, skills and science.
“The university’s plans, if brought to a successful conclusion, will provide a fitting legacy with far reaching benefits for the next generation and local and regional economy.
“My colleagues and I look forward to working closely with all partners as negotiations progress.”
Rosemary French, executive director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, added: “By bringing a university campus to the heart of the Gatwick Diamond, the Gatwick Diamond business community will benefit greatly from this centre of educational and research excellence.
“We do not know of the university’s exact plans, but hope that the degrees provided will focus on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) which is what our employers today tell us are critical for their ongoing and future success.
“In time, we hope that the many local young people from Crawley, Horsham and the surrounding districts will choose to study here and subsequently stay here to be employed in the Gatwick Diamond. This is an excellent outcome and one which the Gatwick Diamond Initiative has been promoting since 2007.”