RHS Wisley’s new £22m Welcome Building has been formally opened by celebrity gardener, Alan Titchmarsh.
Members of Enterprise M3, including Chief Executive Kathy Slack, attended the opening event to mark the LEP’s support for the centre of excellence in horticultural science and learning, which opens in 2020.
The proceedings included a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the incredibly wet weather. Kathy said on Twitter: “The ribbon of flowers sets the benchmark on ribbon cutting. Alan Titchmarsh reminded us of the importance of rain!”
The development includes a 100-seater restaurant, enhanced plant centre and two Changing Places toilets for people with complex physical needs.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has secured a grant of £1 million from the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership for its new National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning, a centre of excellence promoting innovation and world-leading research to support the science, art and practice of horticulture.
This major investment will fund infrastructure and enabling works beginning in early 2019, and upon opening in 2020 the public will be able to visit the Centre, view exhibitions and see RHS scientists at work for the first time in the Society’s 214-year history.
The new Centre will be home to around 70 scientists, advisors and PhD students, and will enable the RHS to continue and augment its ground-breaking scientific research into issues affecting gardeners everywhere, such as climate change and the pests and diseases that threaten our environment. It will also provide state-of-the-art facilities for the preservation and storage of internationally important RHS collections recording more than 500 years of gardening heritage and science.
Enterprise M3 LEP chair Dave Axam said: “We are delighted to be able to support this project, which enhances the Enterprise M3 region’s reputation for ground-breaking scientific research, secures and protects local jobs and delivers on our promise to close the skills-gap in the area.
“Our Strategic Economic Plan is focused on these issues, as well as the need to make better use of technology to deliver clean economic growth. RHS Garden Wisley has international renown for its science and learning, and I am pleased that Enterprise M3 LEP will be able to play a part in supporting its vital research into the issues which affect all our lives, such as climate change and the pests and diseases that threaten our environment.”