Plans for largest datacentre in Europe approved by London council

A rendering of the plans for the datacentre in HaveringHavering Council has agreed to move forward with the £5.3bn East Havering project, which will bring Europe’s largest datacentre to the borough in Greater London, delivering a major piece of national infrastructure. The Cabinet agreed for the council and its prospective partner, Digital Reef, to continue to develop the proposals to bring forward the site. This decision means the Council in its capacity as Local Planning Authority can begin to take a view on the appropriate planning route for this project.

The University of Leicester, who are working in partnership with Digital Reef, will conduct research on vertical farming, potentially creating low carbon food production that equates to 1000 acres of farmland production but uses only around 15 acres. The datacentre developers argue that this is a potential national trial to deliver greater food security to the United Kingdom, and therefore has much broader national significance and will compensate for any loss of some farmland at the site. They also claim it is an opportunity for the UK to both lead and collaborate globally in carbon-offsetting and greenhouse gas reduction incentives.

The project proposals include:

  • building Europe’s largest datacentre on a site of 499 acres
  • supporting innovation in zero carbon energy, digital infrastructure and the monitoring of agricultural and other land use activity to improve the sustainability of the planet
  • making Havering a world-leading centre for the development of green technology
  • generating an estimated 2,370 permeant high value jobs for local people, a substantial skills legacy and wider economic benefits for years to come, amounting to a £694 million contribution to Havering’s GDP during construction and an ongoing annual contribution of £456million during operation
  • creating an ecology park and community forest across up to 300 acres of the site, contributing to the datacentre’s carbon neutral strategy, and providing an open space for all to enjoy
  • enhancing the biodiversity in the newly created habitats and attenuating storm water to help alleviate flooding risks elsewhere.

Councillor Graham Williamson, Lead Member for Development and Regeneration, said: “This is a nationally significant project that will help to drive data security, energy and food security for the UK for decades to come. Although we will be using a small amount of greenbelt, this development represents substantial economic and skills opportunities for the borough. Currently this land is not accessible to the public, and this project will enhance the biodiversity of the area for residents to enjoy.

“It also has the potential to provide a boost to much-needed Council finances from new business rates payments, new jobs for Havering residents, developing training and skills, as well as opening up to 300 acres as a new ecology park for everyone to enjoy. All of which are opportunities for the borough and our residents, as well as they UK as a whole, that are frankly too good to pass up.”