UK data center company Virtus has announced plans for a new campus in Saunderton, Buckinghamshire.

The company, owned by STT GDC and Macquarie Asset Management, revealed this week it has acquired a 50-acre plot in the village, located near High Wycombe and north of existing data center hub Slough.

Virtus Saunderton buckinghamshire
The Virtus site in Saunderton – Google Maps

At full build-out, the campus will feature four data center buildings totaling 75MW of IT capacity.

The site has approved planning and is cleared in preparation for construction, with building works due to commence in Q4 2024 and be ready for service in Q2 2026.

The company said the Virtus Saunderton campus has a National Grid contract for 120MVA.

Virtus CEO Neil Cresswell said: "The acquisition of this new 50-acre campus is a significant step in Virtus' strategic growth plans. It demonstrates our ongoing commitment to provide advanced data center facilities in the UK, whilst also expanding our operations in Europe.

"Our focus is to support the evolving requirements of our customers, wherever they need them, and the burgeoning demand for AI-ready data infrastructure. We are dedicated to being at the forefront of supporting businesses on their digital transformation journeys, whilst ensuring that our data centers are built to the highest sustainability standards, aligning with our target to be carbon neutral by 2030.”

Virtus currently operates 11 data centers across four campuses in Greater London totaling 77,000 sqm (828,825 sq ft) and 178MW of power.

Virtus hasn’t confirmed the exact site of its new campus. But according to a planning application with Buckinghamshire’s planning department, the company is likely building on the former Molins tobacco factory site on Haw Lane.

The site has long been earmarked for a data center campus. German operator e-shelter received permission to build four data centers, totaling 78,000 sqm (839,600 sq ft), back in 2008. Billed at the time as "Britain's largest data center campus” at the time, the project never went ahead.

The site is listed as a historical monument, as it was first built in 1939 as a "shadow factory" making aircraft bearings. Tobacco machinery firm Molins bought the site after the war and made cigarette machines there from 1950 until the factory was closed in 2007.

The 50-acre site was sold for £16.2 million in 2008 to e-shelter, funded by Guernsey-based property fund PFB Data Center Fund. PFB went bust in 2008, and the land was sold at a considerable loss, for £7 million, to another real estate player, Luxembourg-listed ERLP.

NTT acquired e-Shelter in 2015 but never took on the project.

However, reports surfaced in July 2022 that work had begun on the site, but the company involved wasn’t named. First granted back in 2008, the most recent amended planning permission for the site was granted in December 2023 to Virtus-linked Avalon DC.

That application is for four two-and-three-story data center buildings totaling 52,140 sqm (561,230 sq ft) of data hall space. Planning documents suggest the campus will also include an on-site substation. The former Ball Room building and offices are to be retained in the northern part of the site.

STT GDC picked up 49 percent of Virtus from Brockton Capital in June 2015 and made the company a wholly-owned subsidiary in 2017. Macquarie Asset Management recently took a 40 percent stake in the UK operator. The company also has two campuses in development in Germany.