OLD industrial buildings in Eastwood are being demolished to make way for a new data centre bringing the fastest internet connection in the country to Southend, a senior councillor says.

Tory James Courtenay, speaking as deputy leader of the council, told councillors the data centre in Brunel Road, off Progress Road in Eastwood, would make Southend a “beacon of digital transformation”.


Positive - James Courtenay

He added it would bring full-fibre broadband to the borough – with internet speeds of 150 times faster than the average connection.

The construction of the data centre was approved by councillors last month and will see two vacant industrial buildings demolished and replaced with two large containers, 12 air conditioning units, generator enclosures and electric meter cabinets.

The centre will be a key piece of infrastructure for fibre network provider CityFibre, which is working alongside telecoms company Vodafone to make the ultra-fast internet technology available to the whole of Southend by 2021.

Aideen Sadler, CityFibre manager for Southend, said it represents £30million investment in the town and will provide up to 100,000 households with “the fastest broadband in the UK”.

She added the company hopes to have the first homes connected by early next year and every home that signs up for it by 2021.

Mr Courtenay said: “The decision to locate a point of presence site at Brunel Road is a key part of the project which enables the borough and its residents and businesses to benefit from a multimillion-pound project to bring full-fibre broadband to one million homes and businesses (across the UK) by 2021. The delivery of a high-speed fibre network will bring speeds of up to 150 times faster than the average fixed broadband connection in the UK.

“As one of the first towns in the UK to benefit from the new Vodafone and CityFibre fibre-to-the-premises programme, Southend is set to become a beacon of digital transformation.

“The town’s existing 90-plus km network – which was launched in 2017 to serve Southend’s public sector and business community – will be expanded to reach nearly every home and business in the town with construction starting this year.

“For the first time residents and businesses across Southend will have access to broadband services of up to 900mbps.”

But Independent councillor Stephen Aylen has been critical of the plan, claiming the two vacant buildings being demolished for for the new centre are council-owned and could be better redeveloped for business use.

Mr Courtenay insisted the scheme would generate more than £15,000 a year in rent.

Mr Courtenay defended the scheme claiming that the site will be “generating rent for the council starting at £15,000 per annum which is index-linked going forward”.

He added that additional benefits include business rates and the demolitions of “two very tired industrial units at no cost to the council”.