Blackpool's 'Silicon Sands' could bring 1,000s of high-tech jobs to seaside resort

Plans to create a high-performance data centre campus which could bring thousands of skilled jobs to Blackpool have been launched at a major investment conference.

Silicon Sands at Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone would take advantage of connectivity provided by undersea Trans-Atlantic fibre cables which come ashore in the town. Work is due to begin next year to build the first data centre on a cleared area of land, with the council currently seeking a developer for the scheme which would also include a research and office facility.

The project was launched to potential developers at a major conference in Leeds – the UK REiiF (UK’s Real Estate Investment & Infrastructure Forum) which attracts more than 12,000 property-related professionals. Coun Mark Smith, cabinet member for levelling up (place) at Blackpool Council, said: “Silicon Sands has the potential to be a complete game-changer in our plans to make Blackpool better.

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“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.”

Council regeneration chiefs hope a combination of internet connectivity, renewable power supplies and available land will make Silicon Sands attractive to investors. Blackpool is home to the Celtix-Connect2 internet cable, connecting the town to New York, Dublin and northern Europe as part of the North Atlantic Loop, which carries up to one-third of the world’s internet traffic.

Coun Smith added: “For Blackpool, this could mean significant inward investment and thousands of well-paid new jobs across the Fylde Coast. This 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.”

Silicon Sands will be developed across a 40-acre site north of Blackpool Airport, anchored by renewably powered high-performance data centres. The campus could also attract businesses from other high-performance sectors such as Artificial Intelligence, telehealth, advanced manufacturing and gaming.

Silicon Sands will harness renewable energy including from a potential solar farm, and the recycling of heat generated by the data centres to heat surrounding 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.