PLANS to build a £350m biomanufacturing plant to produce modern medicines have taken a major step forward.

Lakes BioScience, formed from a team of UK industry experts, has been granted planning permission to start work on the site at Ulverston.

The proposals will create 250 high-value, high-tech jobs at a state-of-the-art factory producing monoclonal antibodies.

The planning permission for groundworks at the site comes just days after GSK announced it was set to close its Ulverston factory, with the final 100 plus jobs from what was once a 2,000 plus workforce set to be lost.

Pat McIver, director of Lakes BioScience said: “Lakes BioScience will put the UK at the forefront of biopharma scientific research, development and manufacture.

“We will build on a rich regional and national capability and create high-value jobs in Ulverston in a fast-growing sector to deliver life-changing and life-saving treatments.

“The global and national situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need is greater than ever for the manufacturing capability in the UK which Lakes BioScience will deliver.

“We have seen some great things being done in response to the pandemic, just look at the work on vaccines. But what we need is the manufacturing capability so we are less exposed and so we have a better chance to respond.

“GSK’s announcement that they will close their plant in 2025 unless they find an alternative use for the factory is set to result in an erosion of UK medicines resilience.

“It’s a decision which makes it even more urgent that we make this transition before it is too late.

“As one door closes, another opens. We have an opportunity to build a new facility to produce modern medicines which will improve the UK’s resilience.

“But that door is not going to open itself.

“We now have the planning permission in place from South Lakeland District Council for the groundworks and to get the site ready for construction.

“The funding to deliver this development has been established through London-based Star Capital Partnership LLP.

“It means we are in an advanced state of readiness to develop the site. Once we win our first contracts we will submit the second stage of our planning application for permission for above-ground work.”

Lakes BioScience is due to build its plant on disused land owned by GSK which the company pledged to donate to the community for economic development after plans to to build a new biopharmaceutical factory on the site, announced during a visit to Ulverston by then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2012, were dropped in 2017.

GSK, which has operated from its Ulverston plant since 1948, last week revealed it has sold its cephalosporin antibiotics business to Sandoz, and is likely to close the factory in about four years.