Construction and Infrastructure
Councillors click yes for transformative £400m cyber park and 1,000 homes
It was a case of one small step closer to one giant leap forward for Gloucestershire after possibly the most dramatic development plans for the county in recent years cleared the first allbeit minor hurdle.
We are talking about the much-hyped (and why not?) £400 million Golden Valley Cyber Park development and 1,000 new homes on 200-hectares of land between GCHQ and the M5 motorway.
Hailed as a turnkey development which will transform not just the land between GCHQ and the M5, the economic fortune and social fabric of the town, it will tell the world Cheltenham is the capital of cyber – a sector worth an estimated £8.3 billion to the UK currently.
Last night the lead on the project, Cheltenham Borough Council voted unanimously to approve plans which will act as the roadmap for the development. Perhaps fittingly the meeting, due to social distancing, was held on-line in a virtual forum.
It was a decision welcome within the Gloucestershire business community.
Great to see the Cheltenham Local Plan and Golden Valley Cyber Development SPD voted for adoption at Virtual Council yesterday @CheltenhamBC. Plans moving full steam ahead👍 #Cheltenham #planning #development https://t.co/Vpp1guVe4t pic.twitter.com/7oW1KRk4Ko— Evans Jones (@EvansJones) July 21, 2020
As the UK economy battles to come to terms with the emerging impact of the coronavirus pandemic cyber has not only become an even stronger sector, but the Golden Valley Development is now seen as a crucial economic driver.
Andrew McKinlay, borough councillor and cabinet member for development and safety, was not afraid to direct the credit where he thought it was due when he spoke to the Cyber Security Force magazine.
He declared the project a “bold vision and the kind of strong local leadership that will help to drive economic recovery, post Covid-19.”
“Our investment has been the catalyst for this development, which is recognised as one of the most exciting and innovative projects anywhere in the country,” said Cllr McKinlay.
"As we look to the future, cybersecurity and sustainable living will become ever more important – and the Golden Valley Development will lead the way on this.”
As the online magazine for those unable to get enough of cyber news also spelled out, the project has some pretty mighty partners.
Not least among those the National Cyber Security Centre, a part of GCHQ.
"Cyber Central will provide a rich environment where we can innovate and share ideas, both with business and academia. We hope it will also support the long-term supply of talent, helping to bridge the cyber skills gap,” said Chris Ensor, deputy director for skills and growth at the National Cyber Security Centre.
Near neighbour, Gloucestershire College - which has its Cheltenham Campus just a stone’s throw away off Princess Elizabeth Way, is already on the case and in the mix.
Students enrolling on its new Cyber Security Apprenticeships can earn themselves a UWE Bristol degree right here at in Gloucestershire – all of which is lined-up to feed off the energy around the pending development.
For those in education and training and those beavering away in the sector this is about growing its own talent and keeping it close – right here in Gloucestershire.
And we should not forget Tewkesbury Borough Council’s part in the grand scheme – the land being within its boundary. It is set to vote on the document later this month (July 28).
First published 21-07-2020 12:32:52