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UK Deputy Prime Minister to reconsider rejected data centre projects

Written by Tue 9 Jul 2024

Image Credit: UK Parliament

The UK’s new Deputy Prime Minister, Angela Rayner, is set to recall two planning decisions that have delayed data centre investments.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves, said the Deputy Prime Minister, who has also been appointed as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, has decided to reopen and reassess planning appeals for data centre developments in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

“The Deputy Prime Minister has said that when she intervenes in the economic planning system, the benefit of development will be a central consideration and that she will not hesitate to review an application where the potential gain for the regional and national economies warrant it,” said Reeves.

To support this new approach, the Deputy Prime Minister will write to local mayors and the Office for Investment to ensure significant planning opportunities are brought to her and the Chancellor’s attention.

The Deputy Prime Minister will also write to Local Planning Authorities, outlining new expectations in the National Planning Policy Framework consultation. This includes universal local plan coverage and reviews of greenbelt boundaries, prioritising Brownfield and grey belt land for development to meet housing targets.

“Our golden rules will make sure the development this frees up will allow us to deliver thousands of the affordable homes too, including more for social rent,” added Rachel Reeves, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire Proposals

In January, a Hertfordshire data centre was refused planning permission after locals said it would harm the environment.  The proposal included two data centres with 48MW capacity each and spanning a total of 84,000sqm, a building for education and training, as well as site-wide landscaping and the creation of a country park. 

In November, UK Government Minister, Lee Rowley denied permission for a data centre construction in Buckinghamshire’s Green Belt to safeguard the protected area. 

The Iver hyperscale data centre was designed to provide up to 147MW of capacity across three buildings, with a combined footprint reaching up to 163,000sqm. The project included ancillary offices, internal equipment, emergency backup generators, and fuel storage.

Minister Rowley’s decision to reject the Iver data centre project spurned outrage on social media.

Minister Rowley’s opinions were previously echoed by Planning Inspector, Peter Mark Sturgess, in a May report sent to Michael Gove. Sturgess recommended rejecting the data centre project appeal, citing that the harm to the Green Belt outweighs the benefits of the development.

Developer Greystoke Land appealed, but the Planning Inspector referred the case to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, recommending dismissal.

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Written by Tue 9 Jul 2024

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