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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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February 23, 2011

Want to Live Where Merck Used to Work?

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Posted by Derek

A reader from the UK passes along this link. If you're wondering what's going to happen to the former Merck site at Terlings Park, well, here would appear to be your answer. The company is now looking to turn the property into a residential development, having apparently (after several years) given up on the idea of ever shifting it as a research facility. Word has been (see the comments here) that the facilities were deterioring at this point, anyway, making such a sale even less likely.

Having worked at a research site that was later paved over and turned into a Home Depot, among other things, I've seen some definitively repurposed facilities before. But considering the state of pharma research in the UK as a whole, this is another bad sign. Terlings Park seems to have had a much better location than Sandwich for doing R&D, so good luck indeed to these efforts. . .

Comments (18) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. Virgil on February 23, 2011 9:44 AM writes...

Interesting that the real estate website lists the former owners merely as "MSD", presumably dropping the name "Merck" from the proceedings because interest in living on top of a former chemical research facility would not be very high.

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2. K on February 23, 2011 10:14 AM writes...

How depressing. Your final sentance is, unfortunately, very true Derek. Sandwich hasn't got a chance

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3. A noony Mouse on February 23, 2011 10:22 AM writes...

You have to realise that planning permission for "brown field" sites in the UK is fairly easy to obtain due to the lack of "green field" building land. I can assure you, having seen the development on the of Wellcome research site at Beckenham, that there will be no problem moving the properties!

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4. henry's cat on February 23, 2011 10:36 AM writes...

Hmm. My father used to work on a (now derelict) chemical plant site near Cambridge. Developers also want to turn that site in to housing. Dad has made it clear to anyone that will listen that he wouldn't take a house there for free, its that contaminated. When they finish the job at Terlings any future occupants will likely have a particular byelaw forbidding the growing of vegetables and fruit on site. Should tell you all you need to know. Just raze all the buildings and let the original tenants (nature) move back in...

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5. A Nonny Mouse on February 23, 2011 10:39 AM writes...

Forgot to mention that GSK has closed the biologicals operation which was the only remaining part of the old Wellcome Beckenham site. No doubt that that, too, will soon be housing (people were actually relocated to Stevenage, so there wasn't too much of a loss of personnel). Pity, as that kept the old club house and the beautiful tennis courts that were used by the competitors pre-Wimbledon.

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6. Hap on February 23, 2011 10:57 AM writes...

#4: Wow, that sounds almost as reassuring as "The road ahead is safe, but close your windows, turn off your air conditioning, and drive as fast as you can for the next fifty miles." I guess it's better than a cardboard box, though.

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7. AlchemistOrganique on February 23, 2011 12:00 PM writes...

Eew...can we say superfund site? I wonder if there's a British version of Erin Brokovich...

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8. Hap on February 23, 2011 1:09 PM writes...

Considering the state of pharma and chemistry in general, maybe they'll take The Onion's idea and sell the property for conversion into a Homeless Depot.

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9. Lacerta Bio on February 23, 2011 3:57 PM writes...

Well if there is a modicum of good news in all of this, it's that the land is being converted into something, like housing, that is sorely needed and will definitely rise in value year over year over the foreseeable future. Oh, wait...

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10. Beentheredonethat on February 23, 2011 7:01 PM writes...

Apparently its still up for sale. Maybe the planning permission got turned down.

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11. Ed on February 24, 2011 4:11 AM writes...

Shame that with the de-skilling of the UKs workforce as evidenced by the general running down of PharmaUK, no-one will be able to afford to buy any of these expensive new homes. Still, looking forward to the nice new housing developments that will be planned for AZ Loughborough and Pfizer Sandwich.

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12. Ex process chemist on February 24, 2011 6:57 AM writes...

AZ Loughborough site is in the middle of an industrial site on land designated for industrial use. It is also on a flood plain - although the flood prevention system put in a few years ago seems to work. So very unlikely it will be developed for housing - or anything else in the current climate.

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13. Anonymous on February 24, 2011 9:13 AM writes...

When at GSK Harlow, the rumour went that we were going to buy it, but that Merck were holding out for too much money. There were also rumours about (supermarket chain) Tesco buying it up, as well as a few others interested in acquiring a bespoke R&D site, e.g. Eisai.
Maybe Merck have now lowered their valuation of the site?

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14. Anonymous on February 26, 2011 4:12 AM writes...

I was involved in the GSK evaluation of Terlings Park. Merck didn't want too much money, in fact the price was a bargain, little more than the commercial value of the land. It was however an expensive site to run from an Opex perspective which was the main reason (at the time) for not doing the deal. Knowing what we know now though, it would not have lasted long as a GSK site either.

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15. Anonymous on February 26, 2011 6:03 PM writes...

It looks like my lab will be converted into a lounge and my office into WC.

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16. Beentheredonethat on February 28, 2011 4:26 AM writes...

Terlings Park
The future of the Terlings Park site continues to be unclear. Terlings Park was formerly occupied by Merck Sharp and Dohme’s National Neuroscience Research Centre and has been closed for a number of years. We have been in regular contact with CB Richard Ellis who is acting for Merck Sharp and Dohme to sell the site. CBRE believe maximum value will be obtained if the site can continue its use for pharmaceutical research but due to current industry trends this is not likely. Interest was shown earlier this year by the Health Protection Agency which has considered the site as an option for its new Centre of Excellence for research and bio-medical manufacturing. However, due to the changes recently announced at GSK the HPA have been strongly encouraged by Harlow Council and Harlow MP Bill Rammell to favour the GSK site in preference to Terlings Park. At the time of writing there is no conclusion to this discussion and there also remains the possibility that the HPA will stay in Wiltshire where there is very strong opposition to their potential move away from the area.

As further background, Terlings Park is identified as a Major Developed Site within the green belt. Beyond 2011, the future use of this site will be addressed in the first East Herts Local Development Framework, which is being prepared as a review of the Local Plan.

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17. ExMrk on March 1, 2011 11:50 PM writes...

I repeat, rationing access to SciFinder and other like tools was not a good strategy for drug development. TP's just another dead fish from a poisoned well.

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18. Anon on July 12, 2012 9:50 AM writes...

Once developed this would be a great location to live, surrounded by parkland and the river. Earlier comments on not being able to go fruit or veg due to contamination, hogwash. The site was always maintained to high standards, no asbestos was on site, all drainage was double lined and tested. People just see a company name and jump to conclusions. I worked here for 17 yrs and will defiantly buy a property here

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