As part of an £8m refurbishment, Octagon House, on Hathersage Road in Manchester, formerly the headquarters of United Utilities, is to be transformed into a high-tech data centre and prestige office complex, connected to The Loop fibre network.
The building, which sits on a 2.8 acre site, close to “The Corridor”, in the Oxford Road and Upper Brook Street area of the City, is owned by property developer Richard Everton, who has been working on The Octagon Project for over a year.
As part of the first phase of development, The Loop, Manchester’s unique fibre-optic network, will bring high-speed data connectivity to the 90,000 sq ft building, paving the way to accommodate a 350 rack, tier-3 datacentre, covering the entire first floor.
The datacentre, which will provide both dedicated hosting racks and Cloud services, is specifically aimed at the nearby educational and medical institutions, of the University of Manchester and the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Data centres use vast amounts of electrical power and are often frowned upon when located within city environments, as producing a high-carbon footprint. In this case however, innovative technologies can redeploy the heat generated, not only for the benefit of the tenants of the Octagon building but, by installing a piped local distribution network, the nearby homes built under the Brunswick/Plymouth Village PFI, together with major institutions within the area.
The premises already accommodates data and switching facilities for several mobile phone operators and utilities providers but, through the involvement of Gamma and The Loop, it will offer two mutually distinct fibre optic pathways, each with spare capacity, providing a high level of resilience and security, carrying data at speeds of over 10 Gb/sec.
The refurbishment is due for completion during late 2016, with the first phase of the datacentre operational by the end of 2015.
In line with the economic thrust behind the Corridor, the high quality office accommodation is aimed at organisations involved in the field of medical technology, research and innovation, which are starting to gravitate around the Central Manchester NHS Trust, as a centre of excellence in many healthcare disciplines. This is evident from other forthcoming developments in the sector, such as the proposed new Nuffield hospital.
The Octagon’s owner, Richard Everton said: “Our vision is for The Octagon to be integrated within and fully contribute to the future economic framework of the area. We are seeking to work closely with the City Council and all the Corridor partners to ensure this happens.
“Besides its many attributes it is fortuitous that the building is located on The Loop’s network so we can bring superb connectivity to our tenants. This will help give both the datacentre and our tenants’ businesses a distinct commercial edge in an increasingly competitive worldwide market. ”
Ashley Griffiths, Managing Director of The Loop added: “This is going to be a fantastic facility in a great strategic location. The Octagon has tapped into an existing resource that ran right past its door and created the ability to bring fibre and cost effective, very high capacity internet connection direct to its tenants. The project will thus provide additional benefits to the wider business, academic, health and residential communities and it’s great to be a part of this.”
Before they relocated, United Utilities used to employ over 600 people at the site, the Octagon Project will see the building returned to productive economic use and has the potential to significantly contribute to the economic regeneration of this part of the City.
The Loop, which is part of Gamma Communications PLC, has its Network Operations Centre in Trafford Park, and employs more than 100 staff. It offers ultrafast connectivity right to the door for businesses close to more than 100 kilometres of fibre that stretches around the city of Manchester.
For more information on The Loop visit www.theloopmanchester.co.uk
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