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16 May, 2018 - 22:31 By Tony Quested

Cambridge data campus at heart of UK Government push for foreign investment

International trade advisers helping to sell UK opportunities to the world have been in Cambridge to highlight stand-out developments to global investors.

A futuristic data campus in the Cambridge Cluster with a perceived gross development value of £800 million is one of the local schemes in a diamond-studded dossier being pushed by the Government.

The 40-acre Camro Data Campus was one of three East of England schemes – together valued at more than £3.4 billion – unveiled tonight by International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox as part of the portfolio being promoted globally.

That £3.4bn represents more than a 10th of the total £30bn value of 68 projects across the UK that were outlined by Dr Fox this evening as potential lures to foreign investment.

Others will be added. Department of International trade posts from New York, Houston, China, Singapore and other key global centres were in Cambridge to vet prime projects to promote before moving on to other regional centres.

Dr Fox also revealed that a £2.5bn new Wisbech Garden Town and the Nelson Quay project in King’s Lynn – valued at £120m – were in the portfolio.

Dr Fox also extended the highly successful High Potential Opportunities scheme – piloted in Doncaster’s rail industry, Telford’s agri-tech sector, and Greater Manchester’s innovative graphene-based lightweight materials sector – to new industries and parts of the UK.

Dr Fox said: “This is a bold and ambitious programme, building on the UK's position as the leading destination for foreign investment in Europe through the government's modern Industrial Strategy, helping to build a Britain fit for the future.

“With more than £30bn worth of new opportunities, my international economic department’s overseas network is working hard to attract top investors to the UK.”

DIT works directly with companies in 177 cities in 108 countries around the world. Last year, DIT helped attract 2,265 investment projects which created or safeguarded 108,000 jobs in the UK.

Business Weekly understands that the Camro Data Campus is already attracting interest, including from Singapore, China and the United States.
It is being developed in response to increasing demand for new, energy efficient data centres particularly from high technology businesses.

Planning permission is in place for 65,000 sq metres data centre buildings (Use Class B1) with plant, services, offices, car parking, associated infrastructure and landscaping. Reserved matters have been approved for 8,353 sq metres. A potential 50‑acre extension is subject to planning.

A substation designed by Aecom supplies 6MVA with second phase to supply an additional 19MVA. Planning permission includes an on-site energy centre.

Openreach Ethernet is on-site with diversely routed nodes. New interconnect options and dark fibre are deliverable linking to core fibre infrastructure networks to London, the United States and Europe.

Lasercharm owns the site and has invested in project planning, development and infrastructure, including access roads, on-site substation, connectivity and drainage.

The project team is led by Adams Group Real Estate with support from Aecom and Arc:MC data centre specialists. The scheme is supported by the LEP/Greater Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority.

The Wisbech Garden Town concept was born out of the Wisbech 2020 Vision programme when associated partners recognised that high levels of deprivation in the area could only be reversed through growth of housing and the economy.

The Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority in July 2017 approved £6.5m in funding for the project, which seeks to regenerate Wisbech with between 10,000 and 12,000 homes over the next 40 years.

Initial work has already proved it has the potential to attract inward investment, improve transport links and positively impact the social wellbeing of the town by improving education attainment and health and raising its profile through branding.

Further investment is being sought to flesh out a blueprint, so the global promotion of the scheme by international trade ambassadors should give the project further impetus.

King’s Lynn is a historic medieval port in the top 20 per cent of districts nationally for quality of life. It has an annual tourism spend of around £520m and in the past two years has secured over £100m in public and private investment. 

This includes 22,000 square metres of new business floorspace, a new university centre, an Enterprise Zone and Heritage Action Zone status. The proposed development site sits alongside the River Great Ouse which has a vibrant leisure and tourism frontage and is within walking distance of the Minster and the town’s historic core.

The scheme is predominantly residential with an element of retail and commercial including a boutique hotel. A masterplan has been approved for 436 homes (41,329 square metres) plus 7,659 square metres of commercial space.

PHOTOGRAPH: Investment drive takes off with Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox 

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