A director of Greystoke Land has protested at the decision to reject plans for the $3 billion West London Technology Park in Uxbridge, near London, blaming it on “Green Belt theology."
Last week, the UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove, upheld the decision by Buckinghamshire Council to reject Greystoke’s plans to build three hyperscale data centers on brownfield land next to London’s M25 orbital motorway five miles north of Heathrow Airport.
Yesterday, Anthony Crean, a director of Greystoke, told BBC radio listeners that the decision was nonsensical and would lose billions in investment.
The government has to balance growth and environmental protection, Crean told the Radio 4 PM program, “but they have got it badly wrong this time.”
The Technology Park was proposed for Woodlands Park, a reclaimed landfill site, which Crean described as a “former asbestos dump between the M25 and an industrial site.” He said it was “no use or ornament, and a fabulous site for a data center.”
London’s Green Belt, a buffer zone between the city and the country has become a “theological” concept, said Crean, and the mere mention of the label is now “enough to cancel a project."
The Woodlands Park site was a gravel pit in the 1980s and then became a landfill site, infilled with industrial waste (including asbestos). A plan to build a motorway service station on the site was rejected in 1994, and after 1998 the site was infilled with inert waste, with a plan to restore the site to agricultural use.
The site has returned to grassland, but appears to have no public access or footpaths. The planning inspector said the site is a “damaged landscape due to its history of quarrying and landfill”, but said it was currently “not untypical of landscape in this character area.”
Greystoke wanted to develop 163,000 sqm (1.75 million sq ft) of data center floorspace in three, that could deliver capacity up to 150MW, backed by 171 diesel generators.
The inspector said the upper floors of these buildings would dominate the view from nearby sites, including “the bridges over the M25 and the M25 itself.”
Greystoke says it plans to plant around 18,000 trees, and will only build on seven hectares of the 52-hectare site, leaving 77 percent of the site undeveloped even after the creation of car parks and access roads.
Crean told listeners that the decision would lose $3 billion of investment, because the proposed project would go abroad to Frankfurt, Paris, or Amsterdam, rather than to Manchester or another UK site.
He promised to come back with a revised plan.