ASTRONAUT Major Tim Peake has said more affordable housing and better infrastructure is needed to keep attracting "brilliant minds" to Harwell Campus.

Major Peake was visiting the South Oxfordshire site yesterday to talk about the 25 biological experiments he performed during his six month mission aboard the International Space Station.

Harwell is one of the country's leading science hubs but speaking to the Oxford Mail, the 44-year-old said in order for it to remain at the forefront of space exploration and discovery, more investment is needed in the area.

He said: "A huge point we need to look at is housing and affordable housing.

Oxford Mail:

  • Major Peake at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory yesterday 

"We have great, brilliant minds nearby and we want to make sure that they stay here.

"Good infrastructure is also needed to ensure Harwell continues to be a leading life science cluster."

Major Peake was joined by a number of representatives from the science world, including Professor Sir John Bell who is the Regius Professor of medicine at Oxford University, on a panel to talk about collaborative research at the campus to help healthcare innovation.

They spoke about research carried out by the campus being used to help in drug discovery, ageing, environmental exposure and human diseases.

One example includes work at Diamond Light Source, a facility studying how materials are made-up, where Oxford University have helped to develop a new method to produce a vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease.

Oxford Mail:

  • Ivo Horner, three, meets Major Peake at Harwell campus

But the increasing amount of traffic has meant there are often long queues on the roads while the high cost of living in South Oxfordshire means there is a risk people will move to other facilities in the country.

Sir John said: "The Oxfordshire life science cluster is one of the most successful in the world and we are keen to exploit "Harwell's unique research capabilities in the physical sciences and data analysis to accelerate innovation in this vital field.

"But they have got to fix the A34.

"The second thing we have to fix is is housing and that is a decision we as a county need to take.

"Lets open up the planning system. If you want people to come here you have to have affordable housing."