A planning appeal attempting to get a data center campus built in Iver, Buckinghamshire, has been dismissed by the UK Secretary of State, Michael Gove.
Greystoke Land filed with Buckinghamshire Council last year to redevelop a former landfill site and rezone the land to build a data center campus.
The company wanted to develop up to 163,000 sqm (1.75 million sq ft) of data center floorspace across three 243,600 sq ft buildings. It would have offered 150MW, and included 171 backup diesel generators, each with 2MW capacity.
Greystoke didn't name a specific customer, but was targeting cloud providers such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.
The application – known as the West London Technology Park – was denied in September 2022, and the company filed an appeal in October 2022.
After an inquiry this year, the UK Planning Inspectorate recommended the appeal be dismissed. Rather than dismiss the appeal directly, the recommendation was made in a recovered appeal – where the inspector passes a report to the Secretary of State to make the decision.
In a decision letter published this week, the UK Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, said he agreed with the Planning Inspectorate’s recommendation to dismiss the appeal.
Issues noted in the report include the proposed buildings’ size and bulk and impact on the surrounding area; the secretary of state agreed the proposal would “significantly alter the character and appearance of the area” and be “dominated” by the data centers.
The secretary also agreed the development would “significantly harm” the openness of the Green Belt, the ring of designated countryside around London.
The report did accept, however, that there is a need for additional data center capacity in the UK and the Slough Availability Zone (SAZ), and that currently there are few suitable sites in the area.
“Overall, he [the Secretary] considers that the other considerations in this case do not clearly outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and to the character and appearance of the area,” the report said. “He therefore considers that very special circumstances do not exist to justify permitting this development in the Green Belt.”
The decision can still be challenged in the High Court. Another data center campus project was in Iver was recently reinstated when the High Court overturned a Planning Inspectorate decision which blocked it.
The 52.4-hectare site was formerly worked for gravel and subsequently used for landfill in the mid to late 20th Century.
As well as rooftop solar, the development was to include an on-site substation and a district heating network, as well as ancillary office space and parkland; 45 acres of the site was to become an extension to the Colne Valley Regional Park.
Greystroke is a UK investment company specializing in land-use planning. The company says it works with landowners, developers, and institutions to finance and secure planning permission. Its projects include the planned Cherwell Logistics Park.
Earlier this year, GreyStroke filed to build a data center campus in Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire. The project is still under consideration.
The company applied to the Three Rivers District Council for the demolition of existing buildings on a 33-hectare site north of Mansion House Farm along Bedmond Road to build two data center buildings spanning up to 84,000 sqm (904,170 sq ft). The site would offer 96MW.
Nestled between existing data center hotspots Slough and Hayes, Iver isn’t traditionally a major development area for data centers. However, Segro, CyrusOne, CorScale, and Amazon are looking to develop data centers in the area.