A drop-in session to discuss proposals for a new storage facility for the Natural History Museum has taken place.

As previously reported, the museum is planning to submit an application to build a unit the size of three football pitches at Thames Valley Science Park next to Shinfield Film Studios.

On Thursday, September 14, staff hosted drop-in sessions at Reading University's campus nearby to introduce their plans to members of the public.

Programme director Kathryn Packer said they had selected Reading as it was a "fantastic location", adding: "We want to build on our relationship with the University and the local community".

Speaking on the day, she told the Chronicle: “We are delighted today to have so many local people, counsellors and residents. It’s great to have that local interest.”

The drop-in session involved information printed on viewing panels, outlining the ‘plans for the building ahead of planning application’. The building will be used as a research centre to house 28 million specimens, moving artefacts from unsuitable storage facilities such as aging buildings. The project will be the result of a £201million investment from the government and is said to "transform research capability in finding solutions to the planetary emergency we face".

The building will not be open to the public, but the museum claim to be keen to share ‘the wonder of nature’ with the local community in and around Shinfield.

Plans are light on detail at this stage, with staff saying they are in the "early stages" but exploring ways of potentially working with local schools.

When questioned about the building’s access to the public, Kathryn Packer responded that they are “really keen to be an active part of the community. The museum has a long history of engaging people in the natural world. We will have activities that bring people in".

Other than the planning of the building itself, the museum is submitting a separate application to build a linking access road to and from Thames Valley Science Park to the new site. They have also proposed a new roundabout. The information printed also detailed access to the site via bike and on foot, stating that staff will be encouraged to travel to work sustainably, and that there will be secure cycle parking and electric car charging.

The site is proposed to be situated between two woodlands and will have ‘limited visibility within the local area’. The site is said to be adopting renewable energy, with the building making use of solar panels, high efficient heat pumps, and energy efficient equipment.