I was delighted to welcome the Minister for Housing and Planning & Minister for London, Gavin Barwell MP, to Sutton today to visit the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR).
The Minister joined representatives from the ICR, Sutton Council and myself to see the excellent world-class cancer research they do right here in Sutton, and to talk about how the government can further support the growth of the London Cancer Hub.
Back in November, I asked the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to set up this meeting and see how the government will help bring public sector land at the Sutton Hospital site back into use to deliver this project, which will create 13,000 new highly-skilled jobs right here in Sutton.
The Minister was able to see the plans for the Cancer Hub, which has already received government funding, up close and hear from the ICR and Sutton Council about ways the government could help. The ICR is already world-class and is ranked 4th in the world, behind only the American research centres.
However, it is limited by space, so it plans to grow on derelict land at the Sutton Hospital site. The ICR continues to work closely with the Royal Marsden and the Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust, which the Minister agreed was an excellent example of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy in action – professional bodies co-locating to deliver better outcomes. The better outcomes in this case mean more robust cancer treatments, which is good news not just for Sutton, but the world.
However, the project needs major infrastructure improvements, especially in terms of transport, to make it viable. Phase Two of the Tram extension would have come to the Cancer Hub, however, the loss of funding from the Mayor of London now makes this unlikely. TfL are putting a business case together to increase rail services between Sutton and Belmont stations, but more needs to be done, especially in terms of more buses to the site, car access from Brighton Road and parking. The Minister agreed to work with City Hall on this, as well as explore other ways the government can support the project.
I am very grateful to the Minister for taking the time to visit the ICR and for supporting the exciting plans they have. The London Cancer Hub will put Sutton on the map as a world leader in cancer research and provide thousands of new jobs for local people.