Around 100 people attended the Place Tech MCR seminar focussing on the rise of digital technology in property hosted by DWF.
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Paul Newman, Media City UK's head of communications, and Frank Mills, building engineer on Media City UK, gave an overview of the design and operational needs of the Peel development. Newman said the next phase for the site, already home to ITV and BBC, was to move small firms from the Greenhouse SME facility into grow-on space in office towers above the Studios.
Mills explained that the development had been used to shape BREEAM's communities assessment and was itself judged 'excellent' against sustainability criteria for power, transport, technology, materials and sense of place. There is a 20km fibre network beneath MCUK with a 10Gb/s download speed. The size of the underground ducting was designed to make it future-proof for decades to come, avoiding the need to dig up the site. The development uses hidden wi-fi antenna in ceilings as the dockland planning regulations prohibited mast structures.
James Wilman of data centre designer Future-Tech, said that many firms were not using them efficiently. The main issue, Wilman said, was that many customers paid for and generated power that was in excess of their IT requirements. The best way to design a data centre was starting with the user's behaviour, their real IT load and not with the provider or building as the main driver.
Ashley Griffiths, managing director of The Loop, a 48-mile underground fibre network beneath Manchester installed in the dot.com boom of the early 2000s, gave an introduction to the newly relit asset. Griffiths said the initial response from occupiers and building owners had been positive since the Loop launched in October. The Loop, headquartered in Trafford Park, is capable of delivering 30,000 10Gb/s pipes to 30,000 businesses in and around Manchester. As well as physical connections to the network, which was acquired at auction for £1m a decade ago following the collapse of its creator Atlantic Telecom, but would cost £300m to install today, Griffiths said he was hoping to offer wireless radio connections to the Loop.
Julie Simms, real estate partner at DWF, sponsor and co-host of the event, set out a legal checklist to consider when acquiring and building data centres.
On planning, Simms warned that many councils take different views on whether to class data centres as offices or industrial space, which developers needed to be aware of up front. Likely changes to the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme would also need to be tracked for the impact on cost and regulation around the large power needs of data centres.
- Look out for details of the next Place Tech event in the New Year. To get involved contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com