Cheltenham Borough Council has announced its £37.5m acquisition of 45-hectares of prime development land in the west of Cheltenham, marking a significant step in bringing to life the town’s Cyber Central plan.
Developed in partnership with Tewkesbury Borough Council, Gloucestershire County Council and GFirst LEP, Cyber Central will include Cheltenham’s Cyber Innovation Centre which was announced in the Government’s Spending Review in 2015. Centrally located, to the west of Cheltenham in the UK Cyber Arc, it will enable barrier-free knowledge-sharing and collaboration between industry, academia, government and the local community.
The scheme is a critical part of a larger 132-hectare plan for the west of Cheltenham, partly on previously green belt space between Junctions 10 and 11 of the M5, which will become a pioneering new garden village community, built with the natural environment and sustainability at its heart.
By purchasing the land, the council becomes a major landowner of the Cyber Central development. This gives it greater control to drive the project and achieve its ambition to become a world-leading community for cyber technology.
Cllr Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety at Cheltenham Borough Council, said: “Cyber Central is an ambitious plan for Cheltenham that builds on the area’s specialist expertise in cyber technology. Its aim is to fuel the growth of skills, jobs and local businesses, contributing to a healthy economy and supporting thriving communities in which to live and work.
“This project is of huge local, regional and national significance, it’s much more than just another business park. That’s why acquiring the land is seen as a critical step taken by the council in ensuring that, together with the support of our project partners, we get the very best from the development. This is a key stage in an exciting story that will unfold over the months and years to come, as we prepare for the future, become a magnet for the county and support thriving communities and flourishing businesses.”
Mike Dawson, Chief Executive Officer at Tewkesbury Borough Council, added: “This an important joint project in Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Boroughs. Together, the two councils are working closely to deliver this new and very exciting Garden Community at West Cheltenham, providing fantastic cyber business and employment opportunities and an integrated, top quality smart living space for new homes to meet the needs of our future communities.”
Alex Chalk MP for Cheltenham said: ”I have been passionate about investing in a cyber park for Cheltenham because it has the potential to generate life-changing opportunities for young people from all backgrounds in this growing, high-skill, sector. It will also help secure Cheltenham’s economic future. After £22m was pledged by central Government to back the vision, this latest investment is a really positive step forward.”