Project Saracen Data Centre, Broxbourne

Acting on behalf of the landowner, we secured the release of a major employment site from the Hertfordshire Green Belt and delivered outline planning permission for a global data company.

 

We provided planning and environmental services in support of a high-tech employment development comprising a 62,000m² data centre facility and 22,800m² of business space, reserved for B1, B2 and B8 uses. The site also includes a large electricity substation, and areas of open space, with the implementation of a detailed landscaping strategy, perimeter footpaths and flood mitigation in the form of attenuation ponds and infrastructure works.

 

Key details

Project name

Project Saracen

Client

STX-A10 Ltd

Location

Maxwell Farms West, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire

Services provided

- Planning

- Environmental Impact Assessment

- Air quality

- Acoustics

- Energy and Sustainability

- Utilities

- Archaeology

- Ground Conditions

- Flood Risk and Drainage

Challenge

The proposed data centre development was highly contentious given the site’s location within the Green Belt; it was important for us to demonstrate that “Very Special Circumstances” existed to justify the development.  Given the scale of the development and the sensitivity of the site, we also carried out the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment to accompany the development. We needed to demonstrate that the proposed development would not have any significant impact effect on the environment.  Due to the site’s location within the Green Belt and neighbouring housing estate, noise and visual impact were the main issues which needed to be addressed.

Due to the nature of data centres, the Council had concerns regarding the employment generation, visual impact and adequacy of power supplies.

The timing of submitting the application was critical. Our client wanted the planning application submitted ahead of the Local Plan Examination as the planning application documents would serve as evidence for consideration by the Inspector, so we were under huge pressure in preparing the planning application.

 

Solution

Throughout the project, we were always working to strict deadlines and had to overcome many challenges along the way. Having other RPS disciplines involved in the project meant we could actively support each other to succeed by consistently delivering quality work on time and overcoming any challenges faced.

Through providing numerous employment calculations and scenarios and offering a parcel of land to the Council as part of the S106 agreement, we were successfully able to demonstrate that we complied with the policy and economic development strategy.

The site was located within the Green Belt and the planning strategy from the beginning was to twin-track the application and representations through the Local Plan process. Whilst we were unsuccessful in getting the site allocated for development, the Inspector considered the plan unsound at the Local Plan Examination and required the Council to come up with site-specific policy. We secured outline planning permission in June 2020.

 

Project timeline

  • July 2017

    Start date

  • October 2018

    Outline planning applications submitted

  • June 2020
    • Site formally removed from the Green Belt following the adoption of the Broxbourne Local Plan
    • Outline planning permission granted
  • October 2020

    First RMA submitted for phase 1 infrastructure works

     

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July 2017

Start date

October 2018

Outline planning applications submitted

June 2020
  • Site formally removed from the Green Belt following the adoption of the Broxbourne Local Plan
  • Outline planning permission granted
October 2020

First RMA submitted for phase 1 infrastructure works

 

Data centre expertise

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