QTS has released an indicative image. Credit: via NCC

Path cleared for £10bn Blackstone data centre

Northumberland County Council has rubber-stamped the progress of the NEP3 site in Cambois, formerly intended for a Britishvolt gigafactory.

In a meeting this week, NCC’s cabinet agreed the terms of a transaction, subject to contract, with funds managed by global asset management giant Blackstone, meaning the land can be developed as a ‘hyperscale datacentre campus’.

Blackstone vehicle QTS has a deal in place with Law of Property Act receivers for the site, but it was necessary for the council to agree a deed of release to allow progress.

Leader Cllr Glen Sanderson said: “This is a positive decision for all of Northumberland. Driving growth and jobs is a key priority for this Council and the agreement to amend the buy-back option on the site, together with the site’s readiness, has the potential to give a huge boost to the regeneration and renaissance of the local area and put our County at the forefront of developments in the digital economy.

“The project would represent a significant inward investment of up to £10bn, one of the largest in the UK. It will also deliver hundreds of long-term jobs to operate the centres, plus 1,200 long-term construction jobs over up to seven years of construction.

“Importantly, such partnership would enable the Council to establish a £110m fund which will drive long-term investment, including in growth and jobs schemes in the economic corridor along our fantastic, new Northumberland Line.”

Blackstone has placed itself at the heart of the world’s ever-increasing need for digital infrastructure: in 2021, it acquired QTS, which is the fastest growing data centre platform in the world, with 34 operational facilities in Europe and the United States. QTS will lead on the Northumberland project.

A spokesperson for Blackstone said: “Blackstone and QTS have the capital, expertise and track record required to deliver on growing demand for data centre infrastructure. We applaud the Council’s focus on revitalising and bringing forward the NEP3 site, and we look forward to engaging with them and the wider stakeholder community as we progress this meaningful potential investment.”

Prior to last week’s meeting, QTS had concluded 15 months of negotiations with LPA receivers at Begbies Traynor to take on the 235-acre Cambois site, left up in the air following the collapse into administration of Britishvolt early last year.

Britishvolt had wanted to develop the site as a gigafactory for electric vehicle batteries, but both this initial vehicle and subsequent promoter Recharge were unable to deliver.

Cllr Sanderson concluded: “Through the Council’s investment company, Advance, we have worked tirelessly to make this site such an attractive place for global companies to do business and we are thrilled to have attracted the interest of one of the world’s largest investment firms with strong operational expertise and consistent track record of success in delivering large scale infrastructure projects.

“This deal is a massive vote of confidence in our ‘Land of Great Opportunities’ and we are all looking forward to working with our new partners.”

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