London docks data centre go-ahead after planning victory

LaSalle Investment Management and Trilogy Real Estate have obtained planning consent at appeal for the 940,000 sq ft (87,300 sq m) second phase of an innovation campus at London’s East India Dock.

The consent will enable expansion of the campus, known as Republic, to more than 1.28 million sq ft (119,000 sq m). The appeal decision gives detailed planning consent for 150 private rental residences in a 30-storey building of 225,000 sq ft, as well as outline planning consent for a 376,000 sq ft data centre and a 64,000 sq ft studio workspace building containing up to 7,000 sq ft of space for community use.

Tower Hamlets Council’s planning committee refused permission for the extension in October 2022, contrary to the guidance of its planning officers. Following the subsequent appeal, the planning inspector concluded that the design of the proposed buildings and landscaping are of a high quality and would have a positive effect on the character and appearance of the area.

“Over the past eight years, Trilogy has created a campus for education and innovation at Republic that defines this new alternative asset class,” said Trilogy Real Estate founder and CEO Robert Wolstenholme.

“In the process, we’ve transformed an unloved office estate into a coherent and sustainable development with a real sense of place and connection to the community – one that anticipated the challenge of the new world of work and sought to have a significant positive social impact in Tower Hamlets.”

Wolstenhome added that work done with universities and other education providers to deliver space for training, education and skills alongside workspace “has created an engine for the future economy of East London”.

“Bringing a community of students and residents onto our campus will reinforce Republic’s mission to be a place that serves the full spectrum of needs of colleges and universities and integrates with the local community.”

Of the homes created 37.7% of will be offered at affordable rents (measured by habitable room) and 66% of these will be socially-rented homes, in line with the local council policy. About a third of the flats will be one-bedroom, 40% two-bedroom, 25% three-bedroom and six units (5%) will be four-bedroom homes.

The residential and student residential buildings will be fossil fuel-free, using centralised air source heat pumps (ASHPs) with electric top-up and heat exchangers to provide heating, cooling and domestic hot water. The new-build PBSA, Data Centre, and workspace buildings on the development will all target BREEAM Excellent or higher.

LaSalle and Trilogy said the 376,000 sq ft data centre will add new capacity at one of the UK’s most strategically important sites for data centres, using proximity to transatlantic cables and the business hubs of Canary Wharf and the City to create low-latency connections.

LaSalle and Trilogy acquired the 600,000 sq ft East India Dock development in 2015, when it consisted of four partially-let office buildings, Capstan House, Anchorage House, Lighterman House and Mulberry Place.