Leicester’s National Space Centre plans for an out of this world expansion

Leicester’s National Space Centre recently received the news that planning permission for their next £5m expansion has been approved.

The centre first applied for planning permission back in November for the 850m2 extension, which will create 10 jobs.

Future development and expansion plans do not stop there, however, as Chas Bishop, Chief Executive of the National Space Centre, told East Midlands Business Link. There are many phases remaining to accommodate the centre’s clear growth. Chas said: “The centre has grown significantly in the past six years, and with that comes the need to upgrade what we have, and expand to accommodate visitor numbers.

“We have a development master plan which consists of 6 projects, 3 are in the building and have already been completed, and three still need permission.

“One is planned to be complete by July this year and create a wonderful new space for great current artefacts and new artefacts that couldn’t be accommodated previously. The two remaining projects require further funding but are making strong progress.”

When asked to expand on what was most exciting about the projects to come, Chas said: “I’m most excited about continuing to celebrate and improve the quality of what we have here. The new Space Mission Simulation Facility is a great way to exploit the creativity we have on site.” The simulation facility will use innovative virtual and augmented reality.

Chas continued: “The extension will allow further development of our nationally and internationally commissioned work, as well as continuing to attract those in Leicester and Leicestershire on our doorstep.”

The major extension will be used to better accommodate live workshop and corporate events, as for example over the last two years the centre has graced the likes of Tim Peake, Chris Hadfield and Helen Sharman, who Chas notes could all easily attract bigger audiences than the venue’s current capacity allows.

Chris Hadfield at the National Space Centre

Partial funding for the extension has come from the LLEP’s Local Growth Fund.

When asked about the LLEP’s involved in the extension, Nick Pulley, Chair of the LLEP said: “The National Space Centre is extremely successful and is internationally recognised as a centre of excellence. Through the Local Growth Fund, the LLEP allocated £1 million towards a National Space Academy, which is part of the National Space Centre’s expansion plans.

“This is truly an exciting and innovative project that will create new jobs and give local residents access to high quality STEM teaching facilities in a unique venue. The extension will create 850m2 of flexible multi-purpose space to ensure that the National Space Academy is set up as the UK’s premier venue for space events and for presentations from the best speakers, teachers and role models from around the world.

“The project is part of the Space Centre’s masterplan to expand the centre, which also includes improvements to the entrance and the visitor shop and the centres Space Mission Simulation Facility.

“In addition, the National Space Centre and National Space Academy are situated in the Loughborough and Leicester Science and Innovation Enterprise Zone making this space hub even more attractive to businesses and investors.”