The airport is expected to become 12,000 new homes and a commercial park in 2030, which came as a shock to many.
Now Marshalls says he has signed a 150-year lease on land in Cranfield University’s Air Park development project in Bedfordshire. While it is still possible that the company will not move to the site, it is likely that it will now move from Cambridgeshire.
Gary Moynehan of Marshalls said: “While it is important to note that the signing of the option agreement does not represent a final decision to relocate Marshall Aerospace and Defense Group to Cranfield, we are pleased to have reached an agreement. which provides us with a relocation option.
“We are very excited about Cranfield’s ambitions to create a global research airport and are already working closely with them on a number of R&D projects.
“As such, the signing of this option agreement represents a further strengthening of a valuable relationship which I am sure will bring significant benefits to all parties in the years to come, regardless of the place where we will eventually build our new home.
“However, there are still a number of factors that we must take into account before making a final decision on the best location (s) for MADG business when we finally relocate by 2030.”
Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Vice-Chancellor and Managing Director of Cranfield University, said: “We are delighted to advance our discussions with Marshall by signing this option agreement.
“Located in the heart of the Oxford-Cambridge arc, Cranfield, with its global research airport and MADG, would provide a vibrant ecosystem of research, technology demonstration and innovation in aerospace unmatched in the UK.
“We believe the relocation of MADG to Cranfield would further strengthen the partnership between one of the UK’s leading private aerospace and defense companies and one of UK’s leading aerospace and defense universities.”
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After the news, Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner said: “Marshalls has played a central role in the city’s economic and civic life for over a century. We have known for some time that the company has relocation plans and a willingness to redevelop the Cambridge Airport site.
“Previously, I received assurances that Marshalls would maintain a presence in the city, and I hope that will continue to be the case.
“I am concerned about the impact on existing staff who have highly skilled engineering jobs. We also need guarantees around their projects for Cambridge East: that there will be engineering jobs alongside genuinely affordable homes built to high environmental standards, with transportation solutions to go. “