Proposed data centre in North Ockendon

Havering Council has been in negotiations with a private sector developer, Digital Reef, who wish to build Europe’s largest data centre on a site of 175 hectares to the east of the M25. The location has been identified as being close to the necessary power supply from the Warley Power Station, and with good access to fibre data cabling.

This proposal would represent a major development on land that sits within the Green Belt and so requires special circumstances to be demonstrated, which will need to pass through a full Planning and approval process.

It is expected that this will require significant engagement with the community through the planning and development stage, and in relation to onward employment, educational and research activity, along with the design of publicly accessible green space, if the project goes ahead.

Amongst the suggested benefits are the creation of around 2,370 jobs for local people. Environmental research and educational activity is planned in partnership with Leicester University and others. Most of the currently privately owned site, around 121 hectares, would become an ecology park for public recreational use. In the round. It is the intention that the data-centre project would be carbon neutral.

Any proposed development on land that is designated as Green Belt must demonstrate that there are special circumstances if Planning Permission is to be granted. The proposal is quite unique in nature, and there are significant pro’s and con’s to be weighed-up. As such, it needs to be given full and careful consideration by the Council.

Local Residents’ Association Councillors understand that this would be a contentious development and will press to ensure that there is proper engagement with the community, so that all views can be captured and taken into account.

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