A newly launched masterplan outlines the creation of a Silicon Sands Data Centre Campus - right here in Blackpool. It means the town - and wider Fylde Coast - could become a new home for data centre development.

Silicon Sands Data Centre Campus

A newly launched masterplan outlines the creation of a Silicon Sands Data Centre Campus – right here in Blackpool. It means the town – and wider Fylde Coast – could become a new home for data centre development. Pictured above: An artists impression of how the new technology demonstrator could look

UK REiiF – UK’s Real Estate Investment & Infrastructure Forum was the chosen launchpad for the ambitious development plan. It’s a major investment conference which attracts over 12,000 property-related professionals. Silicon Sands launched to a series of potential data centre developers and investors.

A combination of internet connectivity, renewable power supplies and available land makes Silicon Sands an attractive proposition for inward investment.

Why is Blackpool a Good Data Centre Location?

Blackpool is home to the Celtix-Connect2 internet cable. The cable connects the town to New York, Dublin and northern Europe as part of the North Atlantic Loop. It carries up to one-third of the world’s internet traffic.

Dublin and New York have already seen the development of Data centre clusters. In a similar way, Blackpool’s access to the cable could create significant inward investment here on the Fylde Coast. Particularly given its low latency connectivity* to the rest of Lancashire. Including the proposed National Cyber Force in Samlesbury and a range of advanced manufacturing companies across the region.

*low latency connectivity = optimized to process a very high volume of data messages with minimal delay

Silicon Sands is a 40-acre site north of Blackpool Airport, part of the Enterprise Zone. It will be anchored by renewably powered, high performance data centres. Development land is also available for businesses which could benefit from direct access to a data centre. Including high performance sectors such as Artificial Intelligence, telehealth, advanced manufacturing and gaming.

Construction on a first data centre is to begin next year (2025) on a cleared area of land. To develop the site, work is progressing to relocate and rebuild old hangars and administration buildings at Blackpool Airport, closer to the main runway.

Blackpool Council is hosting an expression of interest for developers and operators to build and run the site. This would also include a research and office facility on upper floors.

An artists impression of a fully built out Silicon Sands data centre campus off Squires Gate Lane
An artists impression of a fully built out Silicon Sands data centre campus off Squires Gate Lane

Making Silicon Sands Data Centre Campus Eco Friendly

Silicon Sands would offer a carbon friendly approach to data centres. While the industry tackles limited power availability for high performance GPU data centres, Silicon Sands will offer at least 50MVA of renewable energy. That can be delivered through an agreement with Electricity North West and a potential solar farm.

Silicon Sands will also champion use of liquid immersion cooling technologies. This will reduce the environmental impact and make the Blackpool data centres up to 50% more energy efficient.

Finally, feasibility studies are taking place to connect Silicon Sands to a district heat network, with waste heat from the data centres being re-used to heat the surrounding new businesses.

The full Expression of Interest (EOI) document can be found at www.siliconsands.co.uk or by emailing ez@blackpool.gov.uk and developers are asked to submit proposals by the end of July 2024.

The masterplan has been created with support from Cassidy and Ashton architects and engineering consultants WSP.

Creating Well Paid Jobs for the Fylde Coast

Cllr Mark Smith is Cabinet Member for Levelling Up (Place) at Blackpool Council. He said: “Silicon Sands has the potential to be a complete game-changer in our plans to make Blackpool better. With the power supply, land availability and ultra-fast internet access, we can sit at the heart of a new digital revolution not just for the town, but for the entire region.

“For Blackpool, this could mean significant inward investment and thousands of well-paid new jobs across the Fylde Coast, which in turn will retain the talent of our young people in Blackpool rather than losing them to other parts of the country, as well allowing high performance businesses of the future to grow fast on the Fylde Coast.

“For the data centre industry, Silicon Sands offers the chance to reduce its impact on the environment and on the National Grid. ,And show a modern climate friendly future that can deliver major regeneration benefits.”

While you’re here…

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