£5.3bn East London development to create over 2,000 “high quality” local jobs

Havering Council’s Cabinet has agreed to move forward with the £5.3bn East Havering project, which will bring Europe’s largest data centre to the borough, delivering a major piece of national infrastructure.

At the meeting at Havering Town Hall last night (Wednesday November 9) the Cabinet agreed for Council officers and their prospective partner, Digital Reef, to continue to develop the proposals to bring forward the East Havering 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 project proposals include:

  • Building Europe’s largest data centre 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 permanent high value jobs for local people, a substantial skills legacy and wider economic benefits for years to come, amounting to a £694m contribution to Havering’s GDP during construction and an ongoing annual contribution of £456m 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.

The University of Leicester, which is working in partnership with Digital Reef, will conduct research on vertical farming, potentially creating low carbon food production that equates to 1,000 acres of farmland production but uses only around 15 acres.

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. It is also an opportunity for the UK to both lead and collaborate globally in carbon-offsetting and greenhouse gas reduction incentives.

Councillor Graham Williamson, lead member for development and regeneration, commented: “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.”

By Matthew Neville – Correspondent, Bdaily

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