£95m Golden Valley funding agreed
By Sarah Wood | 29th September 2023
Cheltenham Borough Council's biggest ever investment was agreed at a council meeting yesterday (September 28).
The £95m funding agreement is a huge step forward in getting the go-ahead for two critical buildings as part of the proposed Golden Valley Development - the National Cyber Innovation Centre and Mobility Hub.
Funding could be provided from a range of sources, including borrowing and the sale of other council assets, up to £95m.
The National Cyber Innovation Centre, the UK home of cyber, digital and creative sectors, will be central to the Golden Valley Development, while the Mobility Hub will provide parking, promote active travel across the development, encourage less reliance on cars and improve transport connections across the wider community.
The Golden Valley Development, close to GCHQ, will create a vibrant garden community, centred around growth, training and careers, regeneration, community integration and net zero development. It will secure Cheltenham's position as the UK's cyber capital, as well as unlocking land for around 3,700 homes.
As the first building to be developed, the Innovation Centre will set the standard for the development and has an important role in defining what Golden Valley will become and attracting future business and investment.
Introducing the proposal at yesterday's meeting, Cllr Mike Collins, cabinet member for cyber, regeneration and commercial income, said: "There's still a long way to go and this development funding agreement is just the next stage in that development. It will take another 10 to 15 years to complete the whole project.
"We're not being asked for permission to sign a £95m cheque today. This amount is the current estimate for the total amount required to complete the Innovation Centre and the Mobility Hub - the beating heart and centrepiece of the whole Golden Valley Development."
He continued: "This is the single biggest project that Cheltenham Borough Council have ever undertaken and it's also the second biggest financial commitment that we've ever made. This means that we have to get every single facet of this project absolutely right."
Supporting the proposal, Cllr Bernie Fisher (LD, Swindon Village), said: "This secures the future of our town - some of the buildings, some of the people, some of the areas of our town which we need to look after and support.
"Now is the time to put our support behind a team of people who have brought together this intriguing plan. The amount of money this will generate for our town, for the people who live in this town and work in this town, and the potential is magnificent.
"There are some golden opportunities in the Golden Valley, and we should grasp them with both hands."
Speaking on Punchline-Gloucester.com's Business Breakfast Briefers show today (September 29), Andrew Roughan, CEO of Plexal, which just taken a 51% stake in Cheltenham's Workshop Group, said: "This is an investment in the first phase, which will stimulate the scheme which is intended to deliver 12,000 jobs to the local area.
"It is really amazing news and incredible commitment from the local authority to get involved at that scale of investment in a really forward-looking development. Exciting times are ahead for Cheltenham and Gloucestershire."
The development funding agreement sets out a legal framework that offers governance and assurance between the borough council as landowner and the developer. It includes a number of conditions which must be satisfied before development proceeds.
Matt Bellshaw, director of the council's development partner, HBD, said: "It's fantastic to see the funding agreement signed off - Golden Valley is one of the UK's most exciting new developments and we look forward to continuing to work alongside the council, key stakeholders and the community to bring the vision to life."
The funding agreement includes a cap in case construction costs increase.
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