After 12 months of searching for a firm able to handle the complexities of the transformational project, Cheltenham Borough Council has reached the end of its quest.
The business that will lead the £400 million Golden Valley Development in Gloucestershire is about to be unveiled, SoGlos has exclusively been informed.
That business, chosen from a shortlist of three, will oversee the creation of a cyber business park and 3,000-homes on 45 hectares of land to the West of GCHQ, underlining Gloucestershire’s position as the digital capital of the UK.
So, who is the developer?
Here we reach the snag. Even if it wanted to confirm the name now, the local authority’s hands are tied. The British custom of observing a strict silence on all communications in the six weeks before local elections, known as purdah, is now in force.
However, SoGlos can tell you the grand reveal is expected in June 2021.
New information is out there in a 20-page online magazine just released by The Golden Valley Development team featuring articles by the likes of Lorrin White, from Cheltenham firm Bamboo Technology, and Gloucestershire College.
Alison Townsend, head of marketing at the college, which has been busy aligning its campus and courses in readiness, said: ‘In short, the Golden Valley initiative is music to my ears – and with such a long-phased development planned, the impact and effect of the opportunities will be felt for many years to come.’
The magazine spells out that phase one and two – the work on the Arle Court roundabout to junction 11 of the M5 – is ‘slightly head of schedule’ and due to be completed this summer.
Phases three and four have already begun too – the walking and cycling improvements between Arle Court and Cheltenham Station – is due to finish late 2021, early 2022.
Tim Atkins, the borough Council’s managing director for place and growth, has described The Golden Valley Development as a ‘one-of-a-kind opportunity not only for Cheltenham and the west, but also the UK’.
It will be, according to the borough council, ‘a world-class mixed-use development’, a UK centre for cyber excellence and a global hub to inspire collaboration, growth, research and development – and a job creator for Gloucestershire
It is a project which has already seen the borough council invest heavily, buying the 45-hectare site – the biggest single purchase ever made by the council – for £37.5m.
By Andrew Merrell