DEVELOPERS behind plans for a huge data centre next to the A127 are confident it can help create “more than £1 billion” in investment in the Basildon economy.

Plans are being drawn up for a 24-hour data centre alongside a substation, energy centre, and security gatehouse, on land both sides of Nevendon Road, Wickford.

Now, Caineal – the company developing the plan – has revealed it believes the data centre will be a “huge incentive” for IT companies to move to south Essex and invest in the area.

The data centre will be a large warehouse-type building housing computer systems, telecommunications infrastructure and online storage systems.

A spokesperson for Caineal said: “The UK economy is in desperate need of new data centres. We live in an information economy, but our national infrastructure has not kept up. If we can’t find sites in this part of England for data centres, the operators will go to Europe.

“Our proposals would also represent a major investment in Basildon that would significantly enhance the borough’s position on the national stage for high-tech industries.

“On average, each data centre over its lifetime results in £1 billion of investment and attracts further substantial investment into the area from other IT businesses that want to locate nearby.”

Initially, the plans highlighted a huge 100-acre site in Wickford, raising concerns over the loss of open space and the impact on green belt land.

However, Caineal has now insisted that the large majority of the site will remain as “public open space”.

The spokesman added: “In addition to a new data centre and office building, the proposals also include 86 acres of public open space and a nature reserve, which will help safeguard the green gap between Basildon and Wickford in perpetuity.

“We are still at the early stages of developing our proposals and are committed to consulting the local community in advance of submitting a planning application.”