THREE hundred new high-tech jobs are to be created at Basingstoke under a major expansion programme by Japanese electronics giant Sony.

The £10 million investment by Sony at Viables signals its firm future in the town, where Sony has already established strong links with the local community through its Sony Broadcast and Professional Europe organisation.

The investment is based upon the solid and continual growth of Sony in the UK coupled with the expansion of research and development activities in Europe.

New offices will provide over 20,000 square metres of upgraded and expanded offices to accommodate a number of autonomous Sony businesses. The new facilities will provide state-of-the-art laboratories, computer rooms and technical areas especially for diverse job functions of the 21st century technology company.

To decide which leisure facilities to include on the site for the benefit of staff, Sony is conducting focus group sessions with staff. Initial ideas already include a gym, shops and cafes.

"Our plan is to create open, light, flexible and friendly spaces that meet the requirements of each Sony business and every employee's job function, no matter how diverse,'' said Barry White, Sony human resources director.

"We also hope to continue to attract the best and brightest talent in the industry. I predict the facility population will increase over the next 18 months to around 1,000 staff.''

The two-year project, which will be known as the Sony Village will be managed on behalf of all the Sony businesses involved by David Brodie, project director.

In Basingstoke the company currently supports community projects through the local hospital radio station, the living history museum, Milestones and the Queen Mary Sixth Form College.