Plans to turn the former National Diving Centre at Tidenham into a £100m research facility to develop technology to allow people to live underwater are a step closer.

DEEP, an ocean technology and exploration company, has been given permission for temporary buildings to start preparations.

It comes as the backers went public with their plans last week.

Among those at a press conference where the plans was unveiled was Ian Meek, the Gloucestershire director of Business West.

He said: “It is not often that I am gobsmacked by company announcements in Gloucestershire

“The site is now known as the DEEP, and its development has been ultra secretive.

“But, after months of that secrecy, the wraps came off and we found out that something like £100 million has been invested in this project so far centred on the deep water quarry with depths of up to 80 metres.

“There will probably be a hundred local jobs available when it gets going.

“This is an amazing project which has been under wraps and it still quite difficult to understand fully.

“Essentially, the quarry will become a campus for the ocean.

“It will be the home of some pretty amazing research and experimentation of living under water for long periods, climate change, under water exploration and diving.”

President of Global Services at DEEP, Mike Shackleford, said: “We have made significant developments in advanced manufacturing processes, and will build one of the world’s leading fabrication facilities with innovative production methods which will reduce waste, enhance energy efficiency, offer bespoke design and shorten manufacturing timelines.

“DEEP’s facilities already house our prototyping and pre-production capabilities as well as advanced material testing infrastructure not found elsewhere in the UK, and this is just the beginning.”

Ian added: “I believe this is an amazing project which absolutely falls into the government’s Levelling Up agenda.

“DEEP will undoubtedly provide great jobs for our young people in the future and encourage specialist skills.

“The team behind DEEP scoured the world for a deep water site before on this Gloucestershire quarry.

“We should be proud of that and encourage them.”

The council’s development management committee considered the planning application, which also includes permission to site temporary staff accommodation with ancillary communal spaces, and vertical access staircase to the water, at its meeting on Tuesday (September 12).

District councillors and officers recently visited DEEP and were given the opportunity to view the work carried out so far.

Cabinet member for Econony, Jonathan Lane (Green, Tidenham) said it was fantastic to visit the site and have innovative and world leading research being conducted here in the district.

“It is extremely exciting for all concerned and it’s been great getting to meet the team behind the project and find out more.

“The benefits that DEEP will have for schools, universities and businesses across the Forest of Dean, the South West and beyond, is incredible and we look forward to working with DEEP and local organisations to develop that relationship further.”

The site at Dayhouse Quarry will also have deep water rescue training take place for those in the emergency services, with DEEP working with partners in those areas to ensure that staff have the skills and knowledge required to perform rescues at incredible depths.