A MAJOR new space research centre has been recommended for approval.

Called the R100 space hub, it will house more than 6,000sq m of giant vacuum chambers to test equipment in the environment of outer space.

The new centre at Harwell, created by the public-funded Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), is part of the creation of the multi-million pound Space Gateway.

It will not create any new jobs, but new facilities for those already working at Harwell.

Vale of White Horse District Council’s planning committee approved the plan when it met at Abbey House, Abingdon, on Tuesday.

Planning officer Laura Hudson recommended the committee approve the application, calling the new centre “a development of national importance”.

Last Thursday, the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) announced it would loan housing developer Taylor Wimpey £42m to speed up building homes at nearby Great Western Park, Didcot, which may house Harwell employees.

Harwell Oxford campus, Culham and Milton Park were singled out for government investment in 2011 when the Science Vale Enterprise Zone was created.

The European Space Agency is currently building its new headquarters at Harwell, already home to Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Space, STFC and the Satellite Applications Catapult Centre.