All coming together at Dagenham Sanofi site as final land sold

Ruth Umerah, from ELUTEC, with John Lewis, MD of Londoneast-UK

Ruth Umerah, from ELUTEC, with John Lewis, MD of Londoneast-UK - Credit: Archant

The final piece of the Sanofi-site jigsaw has fallen into place with the sale of the last 25 acres of unaccounted-for land.

An aerial photo of the Sanofi site

An aerial photo of the Sanofi site - Credit: Archant

AXA Real Estate, on behalf of its clients, bought the plot for an undisclosed sum, and is expected to develop the land for further job creation.

Back in November, Site Operations Group (SOG) bought 17-acres of specialist buildings to create Londoneast-UK Business and Technical Park.

And work is underway to transform existing buildings into a 50,000 sq ft temporary campus for Elutec College of Design and Engineering – currently based in Rainham.

Set to open in September with 450 students aged between 14 and 19, a permanent base will open on site 12 months later, housing more than 600 students by 2017.

“It’s really exciting and I’m thrilled with the progress that’s being made on our temporary campus,” said Elutec principal Ruth Umerah.

“Most of the staff live locally and everyone’s got a tale about this site, whether it was their dad or grandad that worked here – it’s great.”

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The full 108-acre site – which already features a Marston’s pub, the Pipe Major – is also set to boast a 78-bed Travelodge hotel and manufacturing units in the coming months.

Although Sainsbury’s, who own 10 acres of the land, pulled the plug on plans for a superstore last week, announcements are expected about future retail use on the site.

SOG’s managing director John Lewis insists the site is already exceeding expectations.

“Taking on a site in Dagenham was a challenge to say the least,” he said.

“We had expected to make a £1million loss this year, but we’re now on target for profit.”

Londoneast-uk is in negotiations with a number of science-related businesses but also hopes to attract major film and TV companies.

Already providing the setting for ITV drama Code of a Killer, Mr Lewis believes the site will soon boast studios to rival Pinewood.

“In the 1960s Disney wanted to build a European Disneyland here in Dagenham,” added Mr Lewis.

“This area is very well-known in the filming community, and those are the people I want to attract – we must not lose this opportunity.

“The investment that is going to go on in the next five years is going to be colossal by wealthy organisations.”