A "world-class" centre for cancer research is one step closer to becoming a reality after Sutton Council endorsed development plans.

Councillors on Tuesday night approved proposals to build the London Cancer Hub, a £1bn project in partnership with the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) that it is hoped will bring scientists, clinicians and innovative businesses into Sutton.

Sutton Council said the centre, planned for the ICR and the Royal Marsden hospital’s site in Belmont, would create more than 13,000 jobs, including 7,000 working in the life sciences, clinical and support staff sectors, as well as 6,200 jobs involved in the site’s construction.

FEBRUARY: Plans for 'world-leading' Institute of Cancer Research hub in Sutton unveiled

The proposal also encompasses a new secondary school for about 1,275 pupils on the site of the former Sutton Hospital.

The Harris Federation, who it was announced earlier this month will run the school, hopes to provide science lessons in partnership with the cancer hub.

The site’s transformation will bring in a total investment of £1bn over its lifetime, according to the council, which said the hub would be “a hotbed for talent, offering research and development space for biotech, pharma, and software and technology companies”.

ICR would become the second-biggest cancer centre in the world, delivering at least two extra cancer drugs every five years.

The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, the Greater London Authority, and Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust have also been involved in drawning up the proposals.

The council's housing, economy and business committee gave the go-ahead to a provisional framework of the plans on Tuesday night.

Following the meeting, council leader Ruth Dombey said: “This is an exciting project of international significance. The London Cancer Hub will be a world-class centre of medical and scientific excellence at the forefront of cancer research, diagnosis and treatment. 

“It will help scientists make new drug discoveries and create thousands of employment, business and training opportunities for local people in Sutton. We are determined to achieve this ambition for London and Sutton and approving this plan is an important next step.”

Professor Paul Workman, the ICR’s chief executive, said: “It’s really exciting to see our plans for The London Cancer Hub take shape, and I’m delighted that the development framework for the site has now been approved by Sutton Council. 

“This will be a truly world-class centre for cancer research, treatment and innovation, and its impacts will be felt across the UK and globally, but especially here in Sutton.”

Daniel Elkeles, chief executive of Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, said the centre "has the potential to completely transform how we deliver healthcare to the communities we serve".

Your Local Guardian:

A bird's eye view of the cancer centre plans

But planners are concerned about the poor state of transport links to the site and are pushing for investment in a new tram network or additional train services. 

Jamie Ounan, programme designer for the hub, said: “We do have £100 million committed [by TfL] for the tram to Sutton to make it come down here and that is something that we are continuing to be fighting for.”

The council has also moved to quell the concerns of allotment holders in Belmont who fear they will lose their plots under the plans.

Mary Morrisey, strategic director of environment, housing and regeneration, said in response to a question from Cllr Trish Fivey: “We are working in close collaboration with the allotment holders and I think you will see if we plough through the feedback that we have that they have expressed concerns that we include their allotment within the boundaries of the plan, which indeed we do.
“But we have been very honest with them from the outset and we’ve also been very honest with them that we very much want them as part of the scheme.

"We have talked about this and that it cannot be done in isolation, it’s critical that we do bring our community with us."