The future of state-of-the-art scientific buildings at Sanofi's former manufacturing plant in Dagenham, east London, has finally been secured following an agreement with regeneration specialists SOG Group to purchase the facilities for an undisclosed sum.
SOG Group, owner and operator of the award-winning The Heath Business and Technical Park in Runcorn, Cheshire, has been lead consultant advising Sanofi on the overall regeneration programme at Dagenham.
The retention of 17 acres of highly specialised research & development and manufacturing buildings has been a focal part of pharmaceutical company Sanofi's site regeneration programme, aimed at attracting new businesses and new jobs to the location which ceased production last year.
Now the bespoke research and manufacturing buildings, which would cost tens of millions of pounds to replicate in today's market are being rebranded as londoneast-uk and will be transformed into a multi-occupancy business and technical park to serve London and the surrounding area. londoneast-uk will operate as a sister park to The Heath, regarded as one of the UK's leading independently-owned technology parks.
Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham and Rainham, said: "It is absolutely vital what SOG Group are doing in londoneast. It's about creating a hub for new technology; new jobs; state-of-the-art facilities to attract new businesses into the east London area but into the Dagenham area in particular."
Mr Cruddas added: "What Sanofi have done in Dagenham is extraordinary. Unfortunately there was some very bad news about the closure of the plant but from day one – actually before the announcement – I came into the plant and talked to the company and they have been extraordinary in ensuring there is a decent legacy for the people of Dagenham, for business investment and new technology across east London in general and to make sure that they've upheld their responsibilities to the community; and it's been above and beyond what I thought would happened.
"I have never come across a better example where a company such as Sanofi have taken on board their corporate social responsibility and their responsibility to the local community, their workers and the wider local authority and part of London in terms of ensuring there is a decent legacy for the people and the local area," said Mr Cruddas.
Sanofi and SOG have also been working closely with the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham on the regeneration programme. Council Leader Cllr Darren Rodwell said: "SOG has been a shining example of how they work with local communities in getting the best out of them. We are really proud to have them as a partner in the londoneast project."
For nearly 80 years the site in Rainham Road South, Dagenham, had manufactured drugs for a wide range of illnesses. For the past 20 years it had been operating as a specialist oncology centre, producing cancer drugs used by over eight million patients around the world.
The scientific buildings are situated at the centre of the 108-acre Sanofi site. Sanofi has sold ten acres of land to Sainsbury's for a supermarket development and an acre of land for a family pub and restaurant. There is planning permission for a hotel, medical centre, warehousing and manufacturing units. Sanofi has donated over 50 acres of sports fields and the May & Baker Social Club, which adjoin the main manufacturing plant, to a local community charitable trust to ensure future generations of residents can benefit from the facilities. The company is currently in negotiations to complete the sale of the remaining pockets of land at the site.