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DATA DEBATE: Abbots Langley residents object to plans for 20-metre-tall data centre

 Published on: 27th July 2023   |   By: Bryn Holmes   |   Category: Uncategorized

Residents are outraged over proposals for a new data centre on the outskirts of Abbots Langley.

The application, which has been submitted by developers Greystoke Land, would see existing structures on land north of Mansion House Farm on Bedmond Road demolished and replaced with an 84,000-square-metre data centre.

If approved, this would comprise two new buildings up to 20 metres in height, a country park, and other associated infrastructure.

A number of residents have voiced their objections to the proposal on the Three Rivers District Council (TRDC) planning portal.

One objection states: “The build floor print of the data centre, with a height of up to 20 metres, will cause a detrimental effect to neighbouring residential properties.

“Of specific concern is the effect on the Ovaltine Dairy Farm cottages located adjacent to the proposed development, and properties of architectural interest to TRDC.

“The proposed building would be in direct line of sight from the cottages, as well as being overbearing and intrusive, blocking out daylight and intruding on residents’ privacy.

“For local residents, used to the far-reaching views across the neighbouring countryside, to find themselves looking daily at a sizeable data centre, and having to deal with the additional environmental disruption, would negatively affect their wellbeing.”

Another resident stated: “Bedmond Road is relatively narrow and already extremely busy at peak times – notably for drop-offs at the school which is almost opposite the proposed development.

“The work to construct the data centre and its ancillary buildings, and the extra traffic flow once it is in operation, would swamp the available access.”

Other issues raised in the objections included the effect the development would have on house prices, the potential for the buildings to be eyesores, the lack of jobs a data centre would bring to the local area, the noise impact, and the fact the land chosen for the proposal is green belt.

However, a document supplied by Nicol Economics to the planning application outlining the economic needs and benefits of the data centre argues in favour of the proposal.

It reads: “The fully completed development would support significant numbers of well-paid jobs in Hertfordshire that would be accessible to residents of Three Rivers and surrounding districts.

“A mid-range, cautious estimate is that the completed development would support 210 jobs.”

It concludes: “If there were no development of the proposed hyperscale data centre on the site at Abbots Langley, this would have a number of adverse effects for the local and wider UK economy.

“The data centre will provide of the order of nearly six per cent of the growth in capacity needed over the next five years across the London area.

“The growth in capacity in the UK is responding to demand and needs from the UK economy.

“A lack of growth in capacity to meet this demand and need would impact on the ability of key sectors of the economy to perform effectively and/or increase data costs for users.

“It is not possible to model these impacts precisely but, on reasonable assumptions, the cost to the UK economy could run into several hundreds of millions of pounds.”

A TRDC spokesperson said: “Each planning application the council receives is considered on its own merits on whether it is policy compliant, both nationally and locally.

“As this is a live planning application, the council cannot comment further but officers in due course will make a recommendation to councillors sitting on the Planning Committee where it will be decided.”

Greystoke Land have been contacted for comment.

Photo Credit: Pegasus Group

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