Developers for ambitious £1 billion Cheltenham cyber project revealed

Golden Valley

Cheltenham Borough Council has announced HBD X Factory as its preferred development partner for the £1 billion first phase of its much-anticipated Golden Valley Development, which will sit at the heart of the UK’s cyber community.

HBD X Factory is a joint venture between UK property developer HBD and the international innovation campus developer Factory.

One of the UK’s flagship development schemes, the Golden Valley Development, will sit on a 200 hectare site adjacent to GCHQ in West Cheltenham and aims to deliver a world-class mixed-use development including Cyber Central, the UK’s first campus focused around the rapidly growing cyber-tech sector. It will also provide 3,700 new homes, up to 12,000 new jobs and two million square feet of commercial space, with Cyber Central UK at the heart of the new campus for cyber and digital technologies.

This is a truly pioneering development, but there are some similar examples in the UK of sites that have successfully incorporated businesses, academia, leisure and housing. For example, the science and technology Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire and Plexal, the tech campus in east London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. 

Building work will start after planning permission has been granted and contractors appointed. This is likely to be in 2023.

GCHQCheltenham Borough Council bought the land adjacent to GCHQ in 2019, paying £37.5 million. It has also covered the majority of the project costs with further contributions from GFirst LEP and Homes England to support the infrastructure improvement work needed in the area – including a planned upgraded junction onto the M5 which Gloucestershire County CouncilTewkesbury Borough Council and Gloucestershire County Council have also provided support for the project delivery.

The chosen developers

Headquartered in Sheffield, HBD is a 137-year old construction company (part of the Henry Boot Group of Companies), which over the years has been responsible for some of the UK’s most iconic developments, from Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire in 1934, right up to the present day, where ongoing projects including a £32m project to transform a prominent site in Birmingham’s popular Jewellery Quarter. HBD has a strong track record in partnering with local authorities on the delivery of large regeneration projects.

Factory designs, builds and operates campuses for startups and fast-growing tech companies. By partnering with the public and private sector as well as local startup communities Factory revitalisates urban areas. The company has worked on projects across Europe, including in Lisbon, Portugal and Berlin, Germany.

The developer search was led by strategic real estate advisor, Avison Young. Construction for the Golden Valley Development will use innovative methods to deliver above current building requirements with reduced energy and carbon impact for the residential and commercial buildings. The aim of the development project is to harness smart technology and be net zero.

HBD X Factory was chosen following a competitive procurement process. 

The main feature of the successful proposal will be the creation of the Cyber Central Innovation Zone to capture creativity of the cyber sector, generating and nurturing pioneering thinking and interactions from the brightest minds across the sector from start-ups to large global corporates and the public sector. 

The Golden Valley Development will be delivered in phases. Construction work will be ongoing over an extended period. While disruptive at times to the local community, it will create employment and business opportunities for the local and wider community.

The UK’s cyber security sector

The UK’s cyber security sector is worth an estimated £8.3 billion, having doubled in value in just two years. Gloucestershire has the greatest density of cyber business in the UK outside London, with Cheltenham having more than eleven times the norm.

Record year for cybersecurity investment in the UK

Located right next to the iconic GCHQ building. The Golden Valley Development is accessible by train, road and air with fast direct connectivity to Bristol, Birmingham, London and other key parts of the country.  The Golden Valley is also within 75 minutes of 20 universities, making it a hot spot for attracting talent to the high value and fact growing sector.  

Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman said:“Cheltenham is an engine of growth for the UK’s cyber security sector and the Golden Valley development will play a major role cementing the country’s place as a global leader in the field. We are investing to help cyber security businesses across the country tackle barriers to growth and boost people’s digital skills so we can usher in a golden age in UK tech.”

Councillor Rowena Hay, Leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, said: After a thorough, detailed procurement and evaluation process, and having demonstrated they have the experience and ability to deliver the Council’s objectives and aspirations HBD X Factory was selected as the preferred partner. In partnership, HBD and Factory will act as a master developer, provide for a driving role to masterplan and secure planning permission and deliver infrastructure across the site. In addition, they will deliver commercial space and the innovation centre for the Golden Valley Development, to high standards of design and sustainability.”

Tim Atkins, Managing Director for Place and Growth at Cheltenham Borough Council and Project Lead for Golden Valley Development, said: The vision is for our development partner to help the Council make our ambitious plans a reality. HBD X Factory have shown in their submission how they share these goals and more importantly, how these will be transformed into a living breathing entity right here in Cheltenham. It will have a hugely positive impact on the town and region prospects, whilst further growing our influence within the global cyber sector.

“At the heart of this development is the community: it will provide high value employment, sustainable housing, recreational facilities to support all residents and employers and will make a significant contribution to Cheltenham’s zero carbon journey. We are delighted to be working with HBD X Factory and look forward to seeing how they bring creativity to our part of the world.”

Adam Brady, Director at HBD X Factory, said: “HBD X Factory focus on truly transformative regeneration projects and delivering world leading new districts throughout the UK. The Golden Valley Development is a really exciting project and we look forward to bringing it to life.”

Jeremy Bamberg, HBD X Factory, added: “There’s so much excitement and momentum in Cheltenham and the wider region; Golden Valley will only accelerate this. Together with our partner HBD, we’re eager to contribute our international network and expertise and support the Council in making this a global success.”
Councillor Rob Bird, Leader of Tewkesbury Borough Council said:“The Golden Valley development will deliver massive commercial space for world class cyber businesses of the future, new investment in Gloucestershire and a new garden community that is smart in every way. There is no doubt in my mind that the impressive progress of this exciting project results from imaginative investment and strong place-making leadership from Cheltenham Borough Council and its partners.
“Tewkesbury Borough Council is a key partner in the Golden Valley project and we very much welcome the announcement of the Golden Valley Development Partner – an important step that will bring the project closer to actual delivery.”