A data hub in the centre of Leeds could be the catalyst to bring internet giants to the city, a telecoms boss has said.
Dr Adam Beaumont, chief executive of Leeds telecoms firm AQL, is one of the men intent on turning former Yorkshire Chemicals land off Black Bull Street, in Hunslet, into the UK’s largest independent data centre outside London.
The Yorkshire Design Group, made up of AQL and Yorkshire Design Developments, believes a £43m development comprising of two six storey buildings with 120,000sq ft of space will provide the base from which the IT industry can grow in the city.
Dr Beaumont, a former Leeds University lecturer, said: “The household names are wanting to connect in Leeds and that’s when the consumer will benefit, but you have to build these things before they make a decision unfortunately.”
He said that, at present, internet service providers have to direct web traffic to London before it reaches Leeds, whereas data centre space in the city would create a base for them that would keep traffic local, faster and more reliable. The data centre is also expected to heat future nearby housing developments through recycling its waste heat.
Dr Beaumont said: “What we are building is a growth sector and more and more data centres are needed.”
AQL, which has already transformed Salem Church into Leeds’s first metropolitan data centre, was part of a consortium that set out plans last year to transform the main Tetley Brewery mill into a data centre, while creating homes heated by its recycled heat.
Carlsberg eventually decided against the plans – an alternative to the idea of a temporary 900-space car park, art gallery and 1.2 acre green space.
Dr Beaumont said: “It was a generous offer that was fair. It is a shame they knocked down the mill as that was a complementary part of the Tetley Brewery and it was part of the scenery.”
The future of the barren Yorkshire Chemicals land has been unclear as its owners since 2005, the Gladedale Group, withdrew plans for housing on the site in June.
In a statement to planners, Dr Kevin Grady, director of Leeds Civic Trust, said: “The development is just the type of building required to help cement the city’s key role in telecommunications and the internet, and we appreciate that this is an almost perfect location in terms of connectivity.”
To view the plans, which should be decided on in December, visit planningapplications.leeds.gov.uk and search for application 12/03975/FU/C.