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Plans unveiled for £5.3 billion datacentre in Havering

The project would represent 75 per cent of the value of the London 2012 Olympics (Credit: Havering Council)

A £5.3 billion plan to build Europe’s largest datacentre in Havering is set to go before the local council next week.

The private sector developer, Digital Reef, wants to create a datacentre that could serve as the cornerstone of the UK Government’s new focus on sovereign data.

It is estimated the project would create 2,370 jobs locally. A Skills Development Board could also be established to help local people take advantage of the employment opportunities.

The zero carbon facility would be built on a 500 acre green belt site in the east of the borough, one mile from the M25 and two miles from Upminster station. Around 300 acres would be converted into a ecology park for local residents to use.

Planning documents suggest the datacentre could also become a nexus for the development of green technology. The University of Leicester intends to use the site to monitor the use of agricultural land so that it can help improve the sustainability of the planet.

The datacentre will be built near outside the M25 (Credit: Havering Council)

The project would be one of the largest mobile investments in the world and would represent about 75 per cent of the value of the London 2012 Olympics.

The site is based within the outer boundary of the Thames Freeport but it is not designated as a tax site. However, the Freeport has expressed an interest in converting it into an investment zone.

If that happened a number of tax incentives could be introduced for private businesses looking to invest in the borough. One option would give companies 100 per cent relief from business rates on newly occupied business premises.

Havering Council might support that option as it would also allow them to receive 100 per cent of the business rates growth in designated sites above an agreed baseline for 25 years.

It is estimated that would make the council £41 million in 2029/30 whereas without the investment zone they might only make between £5.7 million and £13.4 million.

An ecology park will be built alongside the datacentre (Credit: Digital Reef)

“Havering can be incredibly proud to have attracted this investment interest through to this crucial stage and this report to Cabinet seeks to confirm the support of members for the investment, in principle,” said the leader of Havering Council, councillor Ray Morgon.

“This project represents one of the largest mobile investments globally, representing 25 per cent of all UK inward investment in 2021 alone.

“This intrepid opportunity will both boost our Council finances from new business rate payers and provide a shot in the arm for wider local economy, through new jobs for Havering residents, developing training and skills, as well as opening up to 300 acres as a new ecology park for the public to enjoy.

“I am truly excited for the opportunities that this inward investment can bring to the borough and our residents.”

Havering Council’s cabinet will meet to discuss the plans on Wednesday, 9 November.

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