Construction and Infrastructure

Search starts for investment partner in £400m cyber park project

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 15 May 2020 17:32

Search starts for investment partner in £400m cyber park project

When your 'to do list' contains plans to develop 200 hectares of Gloucestershire countryside into a £400 million you can be forgiven for making a big thing out of the launch. 

This is what – like all well-marketed projects acquires a fancy name – has been billed The Golden Valley Development, one day to be home of what we are also told will be something called Cyber Central UK. 

It is the project Cheltenham Borough Council is driving forward, co-driven by the county’s most development hungry borough – Tewkesbury. The land sits within the latter’s boundary, but is a stone’s throw from the legend that is GCHQ. 

According to the line from spa town civic office when complete this will be home to “the UK’s largest concentration of cyber industry”, a “a world-class, multi-purpose development with the UK’s first cyber focused campus, Cyber Central, at its heart”. 

If it can find an investment partner, that is - the purpose of its new 'launch', complete with glossy video.

The project itself was officially launched last year but has been in the offing for some time.

In February 2017, GFirst LEP revealed the has Government given a Growth Deal allocation of £22m for the “Cheltenham Cyber Business Park infrastructure and site preparation”, which was awarded through a competitive bidding process. 

In June 2019 the government announced the Golden Valley Development would be part of its Garden Communities programme. 

Apparently, when complete, Cyber Central will bring together GCHQ’s innovation programmes, academia, business and event space and offer up to two million square feet of commercial floor space for this rapidly growing sector. 

Cllr Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety at Cheltenham Borough Council, said the plans were “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. 

“As we look to the future, cyber security and sustainable living will become ever more important – and the Golden Valley Development will lead the way on this.” 

Tim Atkins, managing director for place and growth at the borough council, said: “The Golden Valley Development is an opportunity to put Cheltenham on a global stage and at the forefront of one of the most dynamic and exciting sectors. 

“That’s precisely why Cheltenham Borough Council has stepped up to play a leading role in the development, working alongside multiple stakeholders across the public and private sector to drive sustainable economic recovery and growth.” 

Avison Young, which has offices across the UK, although none in Gloucestershire, has been appointed to lead the search for a partner on this ambitious and exciting development, which is supported by the Department of International Trade as a project of international significance. 

To dress it up a little more, according to the council Cyber Central “will be the commercial and innovative heart of the wider Golden Valley Garden Community with over 3,000 homes creating a community supported by shops, cafes, restaurants and leisure facilities”. 

Cheltenham Borough Council has shown its commitment to the development with the purchase of 45 hectares of land - the biggest single purchase ever made by the council at £37.5 million. 

The council has a further £180 million funding available for the delivery of high-quality homes. 

The UK cyber security sector is currently valued at £8.3 billion, having doubled in two years and growth is expected to continue at a similar pace, therefore the timing of the Golden Valley Development will make it a key driver for economic recovery locally, regionally and nationally. 

In the first stage of the search for that investment partner interested parties are invited to complete and return a Selection Questionnaire by July 10 this year - available from Avison Young. 

A partner is expected to be appointed in Spring 2021.