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UCL planning to build new laboratory in Dagenham

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:38 12 November 2019

Plans to build a new research laboratory featuring planes, trains and automobiles on old industrial land in Dagenham were given the go-ahead on November 11. Picture: Be First

Plans to build a new research laboratory featuring planes, trains and automobiles on old industrial land in Dagenham were given the go-ahead on November 11. Picture: Be First

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University College London is planning to open a new laboratory in Dagenham.

An experiment at UCL's Pedestrian Accessibility Movement Environment Laboratory in Tufnell Park. Picture: UCL Engineering.An experiment at UCL's Pedestrian Accessibility Movement Environment Laboratory in Tufnell Park. Picture: UCL Engineering.

The prestigious university is trying to get bigger and better facilities for its Pedestrian Accessibility Movement Environment Laboratory (Pamela), which looks at how people interact with man-made spaces like Tube stations. The goal is to give people a better quality of life through better designed spaces.

The planning application includes an aeroplane fuselage and decommissioned tube and train carriages to simulate environments on public transport.

Dr Derrick Boampong is lab manager at Pamela. "We're trying to engage with schools and colleges to give them access to the facility and to give [students] something to think about when they go to school or university," he said.

On top of expanding its current facilities that control lighting, sound, and simulate different terrain, Dr Boampong said there are plans for a new olfaction system - technology that replicates different smells.

The old Sanofi site on Rainham Road South. Picture: Ken Mears.The old Sanofi site on Rainham Road South. Picture: Ken Mears.

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"We're looking at how people move within the environment," he added.

"We look at things like slopes for wheelchair users [and] we work with visually impaired people in different lighting conditions."

Researchers have used the lab, which is currently in Tufnell Park, to see how spaces can be more disabled accessible and how different elements in the environment affect people with dementia and Parkinson's disease.

The buildings currently in the site have been vacant for around ten years, according to the council planning report. If the proposal is approved, they'll be replaced by a building around 110 metres long, 40 metres wide and almost 14 metres high. The new lab will be called the Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory, or Pearl.

Among the conditions for approval is that a quarter of the labour and suppliers for the development come from Barking and Dagenham

UCL hopes to join a growing number of projects on the old Sanofi site close to Dagenham East tube station. It's currently home to Secret Cinema's Casino Royale production and is the proposed site for the new film studios planned by the council.

The proposal is set to be decided on by the planning committee on Monday, November 11. Council officers have recommended approving the lab.

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