Huge data centre planned for South Essex green belt

A HUGE 100-acre piece of green belt land next to the A127 could be transformed into a 24-hour data centre, sparking fears over the loss of open space from councillors.

Property developer Caineal has submitted an environmental screening request ahead of a full planning application to create a data centre as well as a substation, energy centre and security gatehouse.

The large site – equivalent to the size of 57 football pitches – is in Wickford and includes green belt land on both sides of Nevendon Road, bordering the A127.

The developer has stated as part of the plan that it will include “public open space” however councillors have still raised concerns of the loss of green belt land.

Wickford town councillor, David Harrison, also raised concerns around access to the site from Nevendon Road, which also includes several homes and a small number of businesses.

He said: “It is in the wrong place and the access that was proposed to use was the same access that the charging station was going to use, this is going to be a 24-hour data processing place.

“I think they were looking for an area where the high fibre lines are so that’s why they have picked this area, the access was wrong and the only access they can get to the site is Old Nevendon Road, the residents would be quite affected and it is being put on greenbelt, I thought they would have more issues with that.

“There is only a small piece of Old Nevendon Road which is dual, where that area is, and I think the effect on Wickford will be closing the gap between Basildon and Wickford, as this side the A127 is basically green.

“When the council talked with them, they said they would do a lot of tree planting, I asked them if they own the land, I don’t think they do, even with the withdrawn local plan, there is likely to be some developments south of the wick, which will go towards the A127.”

At the moment, only a environmental impact assessment with limited detail has been submitted to Basildon Council but the response will be used to form part of a planning application.

Wickford Castledon Tory councillor, Don Morris, said: “I don’t think this will bring us much in terms of employment and training, whether it will get passed, because it’s in the green belt, I am not so keen.”

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