The Government has given its strong backing to James Dyson’s troubled project, the Dyson School for Design Innovation.
The move comes ahead of a crucial planning decision by Bath and North Somerset Council tomorrow, which will decide the mooted school’s fate.
Despite an uncertain future, the project features prominently in the Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills’ white paper Innovation Nation, which was published last week alongside the Budget.
Minister for Innovation Ian Pearson tells Design Week, ‘I am delighted that Dyson wants to establish the Dyson school of Design Innovation. Alongside the National Skills Academy I think it is a really exciting initiative for the future and it will be a real national centre for excellence’.
However, the council is objecting to the school, mainly on aesthetic grounds. Its planning report on the Wilkinson Eyre-designed building states that, ‘The height, scale, design and materials are harmful to the setting of listed buildings and to the character and setting of adjacent conservation and World Heritage sites.’
Dyson, who is based in the south west of England, claims that Bath would benefit from a design and technology college.
‘Britain is now facing a chronic shortage of engineers,’ says Dyson. ‘If Britain wants to be more than a mere trading partner, we need to create exciting and useful products and technology’.
James Dyson refers to the planning report as ‘a slap in the face for the young people of Bath’ and claims that it is ‘riddled with inaccuracies’.
‘The report rejects the views of English Heritage and fails to report the views of headteachers and industry,’ says Dyson. ‘The decision remains with the elected councillors of the planning committee who we hope will see beyond this report and give young people the opportunity to flourish as our engineers of the future.’