UKREiiF Registration Crowds, UKREiiF, c UKREiiF

UKREiiF served as a platform for councils in Lancashire to launch a series of development opportunity documents. Credit: UKREiiF

UKREiiF | Lancashire’s moment

Lancashire County Council, Preston City Council, and Blackpool Council came to the Leeds-based convention to do business – launching a county-wide investment prospectus, the Preston 35 regeneration plan, and the anticipated Silicon Sands data centre.

Place spoke with each of the councils about their launches.

UKREiiF investment prospectus Lancashire, c PNW

The three documents launched at UKREiiF. Credit: PNW


Steve Burns, head of strategic development at Lancashire County Council was well pleased with the reception the authority had received at UKREiiF.

“There’s a real buzz around what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re on the crest of some really big opportunities.”

Sharing those opportunities was his mission for the week, and the reason for the launch of the Invest in Lancashire prospectus.

“This is a snapshot of what we’re doing as a county council, so taking our assets forward,” Burns said. “But it’s also very much the here and now. It’s the opportunities that are live. It’s a real mix of things that are coming out of the ground already and those things that over the next 12 months will start to come forward.”

This includes Eden Project Morecambe, the Farington Cricket Campus, Huncoat Garden Village, and Blackpool’s Talbot Gateway.

“One of the things we want to do is really shout about all the exciting things that are happening in Lancashire,” Burns said. “I think we probably don’t do that enough.”

Fishergate offices, Martin Property Group, p planning docs

Martin Property Group is developing offices off Fishergate, one part of the Station East plan in Preston. Credit: via planning documents


A secret too good to be kept – that was the theme of our chat with John Chesworth, executive chairman of Harrison Drury Solicitors and chair of the Preston Partnership.

“We’ve got to tell the story of the opportunity that we have in Preston,” Chesworth said, citing the National Cyber Force’s future facility, the 38,000 students and teachers at UCLan, and the city’s excellent transport links and green spaces.

“Preston has got loads of potential opportunities, but we’ve got to get that out there and tell people about it.”

To that end, Preston Partnership has worked alongside the University of Central Lancashire, Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council, and consultant Hatch to create Preston 35 – A Regeneration Plan for Preston (2024-2035). The document plays up Preston’s bright future, referring to the plans for a new commercial quarter at Preston Station East, the second, 655-home phase of Stoneygate, and the £36m Cottam Parkway railway station.

The document is about providing certainty and a direction for moving forward.

“We’ve got a roadmap now going through to 2035,” said Chesworth.

He was particularly enthusiastic about Preston Station East, noting that many of those living in Preston leave the city to work in business parks outside of the city centre.

“We want to bring those high-quality, high-value jobs right back into the centre of the city,” he said.

Chesworth added later: “For me, Station East is a fundamentally important project. Speaking to agents who are working on Station East, there’s a demand there.”

Chesworth said that, in talks with potential occupiers, it was clear that if Grade A offices were built in the right location, they would be filled.

“It’s an opportunity that we can’t miss. If we don’t get that Grade A office space in the next five years, there’s a danger that Preston just becomes a complete dormitory town,” he said. “We’re the commercial centre of Lancashire and we want to enhance that and kick on from that.”

Silicon Sands artistic impression, Blackpool Council, p Blackpool Council

Expressions of interest from data centre developers are now being accepted for Silicon Sands. Credit: via Blackpool Council


Silicon Sands was one of the main projects Blackpool was promoting at UKREiiF. The 40-acre campus will focus on data centres that leverage Blackpool’s access to the Celtix-Connect2 transatlantic cable to provide high-performance connectivity.

To help spur the development of these data centres, Silicon Sands will provide 50MVA of renewable energy and encourage the use of liquid immersion cooling technologies – a move that could make the data centres up to 50% more energy efficient, according to Blackpool Council. The council is also examining the potential for a district heat network that would re-use the heat generated from the data centres to support other businesses.

Silicon Sands is more than just a data centre hub though, the masterplan – developed by Cassidy and Ashton and WSP – includes development plots for businesses that may benefit from direct access to a data centre, such as those working in artificial intelligence.

“Silicon Sands has the potential to be a complete game-changer in our plans to make Blackpool better,” said Cllr Mark Smith, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for levelling up, place.

“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.”

Smith went on: “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 major regeneration benefits.”

At UKREiiF, Blackpool Council announced it was currently accepting expressions of interest from data centre developers and operators. Construction is due to start on the first data centre next year.

See Place’s complete coverage from UKREiiF 2024 on our UKREiiF news hub.

Your Comments

Read our comments policy

It’s an error even made around here, but the LCC Cricket Campus is in Farington rather than Farrington.

By Michael Turner

    Hi Michael- thanks for letting me know. I’ve taken out the extra “r” and will make a note of that for the future as well.

    By Julia Hatmaker

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