Data centre construction - How to navigate the UK planning system

In the heavily competitive UK market, the right data centre site can be hard to come by. Exponential growth in demand means the programme is tight, and yet even once you’ve purchased the land, there’s no guarantee. Everything depends on the planning application. So how do you increase your chances of success? 

When to consult a planning specialist?

Before significant investment is made. The UK planning system can be complex, time consuming and expensive. But consulting a planning expert as part of your data centre site evaluation can remove avoidable risk.   

By identifying early which sites have the best chance of approval, expert planning advice can be the key to unlock a site and protect investment. 

6 steps for your data centre planning strategy

Before gaining planning approval, your data centre is hypothetical. So with everything depending on the right strategy for your planning application it pays to be prepared. While each site and project is different, considering these six steps for identifying the right planning strategy will help you set up for success.

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Set up for success: 4 early considerations

While each data centre construction project presents different challenges and opportunities, considering these 4 issues early will increase your chances of a smooth and successful planning application. 

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Why RPS?

As trusted data centre advisors, and with deep expertise in the UK planning system, founded on over fifty years of experience, we are uniquely positioned to help data centre developers of all types and scale, including hyperscalers, colocation operators and global cloud computing providers. 

  • We are a planning led consultancy with over 50 years of experience. 
  • We have teams right across the UK with in-depth local knowledge and relationships with the relevant local authorities 
  • We lead multi-disciplinary, in-house teams of environmental experts who can advise and deliver every aspect of the planning application 
  • We have global experience and an in-depth understanding of the physical and technical requirements of data centre design, development and operations 
  • We make complex easy 


Planning for UK data centres

Our planning experts share their insight and guidance for setting your data centre construction project up for success.

The Air Quality Neutral Assessment

In the UK the majority of new build data centres sit in or around London. But when it comes to getting planning permission for a site in the capital, developers must prove their data centre is Air Quality Neutral. Diesel generators make this challenging. Technical Director for Air Quality, Fiona Prismall, discusses the key questions - How does the assessment work? Is it appropriate for this unique asset class? How should developers tackle it?

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Engage stakeholders early

In the UK nearly all planning applications are the subject of consultation and the success of an application will be heavily influenced by the views of local residents and other stakeholdersA vital step to reduce risk in any data centre planning application is therefore identifying stakeholders and building buy-in early. 

Working in partnership through all aspects of the planning process we can help you to establish trust and build shared understanding through open and transparent community and stakeholder consultation. 

Making complex easy, our new virtual consultation platform is designed to increase project engagemenand provide a more resilient approach to community and stakeholder engagement. Both during covid-19 restrictions and beyond. social distancing measures and beyond. 

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