Government invests further £20m in Cheltenham Cyber Park
By David Wood | 20th November 2023
Cheltenham Borough Council has been awarded £20 million in Government funding to build the Innovation Centre at the Cheltenham Cyber Park.
The money has come from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
The Innovation Centre will provide a further permanent home for GCHQ in a modern 'low-side' site near the Doughnut that will combine government, industry and academia in one building.
As part of his cyber vision for the town, Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk has been championing the bid with his cabinet and ministerial colleagues and most recently called a meeting with the 'Levelling Up' minister last week to press for funding.
During the meeting, Mr Chalk stated that although levelling up is not always immediately associated with Cheltenham, there are areas of intense deprivation; and although talent is evenly distributed, more needs to be done to unlock the equality.
Mr Chalk said: "After much lobbying behind the scenes, I am delighted that the Government is investing a further £20 million into the Cheltenham Cyber Park. It takes the total sum invested so far by Government into our town's tech future to over £52 million.
"It's so encouraging to see the Government getting behind the Cheltenham cyber and digital vision which I first set out in 2014. I believe passionately that growing this sector is one of the best ways to address the deprivation which exists in our town. It's how we create opportunities for youngsters who may not have had the easiest start in life, but are talented and prepared to work hard.
"We have already seen £3 million invested by the Government in GlosCol's Advanced Digital Academy, and a £24 million infrastructure upgrade open up the Cyber Park. £5.8 million has also been awarded to the University of Gloucestershire to support a major new investment in their cyber, computing, engineering and digital facilities at the Park Campus.
"This major Government investment will help our town deliver on the vision I set out in 2014: to protect our heritage, but rapidly embrace the opportunities of technology. That's how we will be fit for the future."
Cllr Max Wilkinson, cabinet member for economic development, culture, tourism and wellbeing, said: "This is unequivocally good news for Cheltenham.
"Cheltenham Borough Council has led this project from the start, most recently working with partners HBD and Factory.
"We have worked hard locally to ensure the Golden Valley project will build on our town's strength as a centre for cyber and tech.
"The £20 million the government has now pledged for the innovation centre will sit alongside investment by the council of £130m.
"It will help us deliver jobs and prosperity for local people."
The innovation centre and Golden Valley Development has a wider regional and national importance as part of cementing Cheltenham's place as part of a key part of cyber cluster.
The centre will be a catalyst for bringing greater prosperity to Cheltenham and the neighbouring wards in west Cheltenham, as well as for the entire region.
The proposed development, covering 47ha, will deliver a diverse innovation district, comprising over 1 million sq. ft. of commercial space. It will attract businesses with a focus on science and technology in particular, building on the existing specialist cluster in cyber and the emerging AI, Deep Tech and Future Computing/Quantum sectors.
New homes will also be an important element of the project, providing over 1,000 sustainable properties to rent and buy. All this will be situated within an extensive network of green open spaces with community amenities and a new primary school also featuring in the masterplan.
Separate detailed proposals for the National Cyber Innovation Centre will be submitted in the new year following last month's £95m funding agreement for the delivery of the landmark new building.
Punchline-Gloucester.com editor Mark Owen said: "This is fantastic news for Cheltenham, a clear indication from the Government that they are backing the scheme.
"Congratulations to Cheltenham Borough Council for all their hard work, councillors for believing in it and officers for doing the hard graft to make it happen and a strong MP lobbying the Government to get the money - all of them working together, nice to see some grown up politics."
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