A £15m laboratory which will be used for testing drugs on animals is being built in Leicester.
The University of Leicester is building the laboratory on a car park behind the fire station in Lancaster Road, on the edge of its city campus.
University chiefs said work there would involve carrying out "vital" tests on mice and rats in an effort to find new treatments for cancer, heart disease, meningitis, diabetes and kidney disease in humans.
Animal rights activists said they were disturbed by the plans, and said they were considering holding a protest march at the site within months.
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The National Anti-Vivisection Alliance (NAVA) said it believed beagle dogs, which are commonly used in animal testing, as well as rodents would be used for tests at the laboratory.
The university denied any dogs would be used.
A statement from the university said the laboratory would replace "existing facilities" and provide "an improved environment for staff and animals".
The university currently uses as many as hundreds of rodents in existing labs on the city centre campus every year, but it did not say exactly where the labs were.
A university spokesman said it was "committed to conducting medical research without the use of animals where effective alternatives exist".
Where animal research is carried out, it is to test the safety and effectiveness of treatments before they are tried on humans.
The spokesman said: "The scientists, technicians and veterinarians involved with the animals on a daily basis operate within strict ethical codes under a dedicated culture of care for all animals within the university."
The university said that over the years, animal testing had contributed to developments such as penicillin, meningitis vaccines and insulin for diabetics. However, NAVA said the university's lab would be a "pointless waste of lives, money and resources".
Spokesman Luke Steele said: "The University of Leicester already has a number of facilities, which use primates, dogs and rodents in experiments.
"There is absolutely no reason for another laboratory to be built. It is squandering money away from potentially life-saving research which is accurate and does not involve abusing animals."
Planning permission for the site was given by Leicester City Council earlier this month. The laboratory should be up and running by early next year.