Published on 26th January 2022

Cllr Andrew McKinlay, Julia Lopez MP (Minister of State for Media, Data, and Digital Infrastructure), Matthew Burgess (Principal & CEO of Glos College) and Andy Bates (Finance Director, Glos College), during a discussion about the Golden Valley Developmen

Julia Lopez, Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure, visited Cheltenham on 25 January.

  • The visit was hosted by the Golden Valley Development with a tour of Hub8 and Gloucestershire College’s ADA Suite
  • The Golden Valley Development was recently named in the UK Government’s National Cyber Strategy as key to the growth of the UK’s cyber ecosystem and the delivery of the National Cyber Innovation Centre.

On Tuesday 25 January 2022, Julia Lopez MP, Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure visited Cheltenham to find out firsthand about the town’s ambitions and progress in developing the UK’s cyber sector and ecosystem. The visit was hosted by Gloucestershire College, Hub8, Cheltenham Borough Council and the Western Gateway and was supported by a wide number of other key stakeholders all committed to the delivery of the Golden Valley Development and the growth of cyber & creative innovation.

Last month, the Golden Valley Development (a major national infrastructure project by Cheltenham Borough Council) was cited in the UK Government’s National Cyber Strategy as a key organisation to help “foster the growth of a sustainable, innovative and internationally competitive cyber and information security sector.” The Minister was provided with updates on the progress on the delivery of the National Cyber Innovation Centre that will form a focal point of the first phase of the Golden Valley Development. She also heard from a broad range of stakeholders with a particular focus on how skills development and learning pathways will be transformed; nurturing and attracting high-performing talent; and supporting the growth of this sector across the UK. This included representatives from Plexal, AWS, Cheltenham Festivals, UKC3, Universities of Bristol and Gloucestershire and Cheltenham Ladies College, who all participated in the discussion alongside local MP, Alex Chalk.

The Minister engaged with Gloucestershire College students who demonstrated how passwords can be cracked in the War Room before participating in discussions about the progress and drive for skills and talent development led by the Golden Valley Development. Acting as a catalyst, the project is also supporting inward investment, business relocation as well as innovation with the area’s broad church of partners.

As one of the UK’s leading cyber clusters, ‘CyNam’ is driving the growth of the regional cyber sector in Gloucestershire through initiatives and partnerships focused on innovation, skills growth and ecosystem development. CyNam’s Managing Director, Richard Yorke, is also Chair and co-founder of the UKC3, a DCMS funded national body focused on supporting cyber clusters across the country to strengthen the UK's cyber ecosystem.

Julia Lopez, Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure, said: "It's been great meeting the cyber talent of tomorrow and to see them firsthand gaining valuable security skills.

"Cheltenham's Golden Valley development is at the heart of our country's cyber sector and is playing a vital role helping us achieve the ambitious plans set out in our National Cyber Strategy."

Councillor Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for cyber and strategic transport, Cheltenham Borough Council said: “I’m really pleased to have welcomed Minister Lopez to Cheltenham and to showcase our ambitions to be at the heart of the UK’s cyber plans. Cheltenham has so much to offer and I’m keen to continue to work with the minister to translate those ambitions into reality over the next few years.’’

In response, Tim Atkins, Project Lead for the Golden Valley Development commented: “Cheltenham’s role in the development and delivery of the UK’s cyber mission has been strengthening over recent years. The importance of our location in particular to cyber security, innovation and development of related emerging tech has been growing at pace. The Minister of State for DCMS’s visit to Cheltenham comes at a very important time soon after the launch of the latest National Cyber Strategy.

“We hope the Minister was able to get a feel about the drive and energy behind this project and our ability to work with key partners to deliver the National Cyber Innovation Centre as part of our fast growing cyber eco-system and a key part of the country’s newest powerhouse, the Western Gateway.”

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About the Golden Valley Development

The Golden Valley Development is a Cheltenham Borough Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council planned 200-hectare development in Cheltenham. Currently in its infancy, this project will transform the site into a world-class, multi-use development with 3,700 homes and the UK’s first cyber focused campus, Cyber Central. With investment from the government’s Garden Communities programme, the development will have a long-term focus on delivering new job opportunities, quality affordable housing and sustainable transport to benefit the region.

This project will enhance Cheltenham’s already appealing stature as a top destination for living and working, with the Sunday Times naming it as the best place to live in the South West in 2020. 

The project has received funding from local and national government bodies, including £22 million investment from GFirst LEP to improve transport infrastructure surrounding the Golden Valley Development site. Also, the Council has a further £180 million funding available for the delivery of high-quality homes.  £37.5 million was used by Cheltenham Borough Council to fund the purchase of the land alongside £249 million of Government investment being delivered by Gloucestershire County Council. The project’s success to-date has been founded on strong collaborative working.  The site includes the direct involvement of three local authorities Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Borough Councils and Gloucestershire County Council, as well as the strong support of the GFirst LEP.

The ongoing support of public sector partners Tewkesbury Borough Council, Gloucestershire County Council and GFirst LEP are enabling us to further develop the environment and provide the necessary infrastructure for sector growth and attract inward investment. We are also working in collaboration with key partners locally, including CyNam, Gloucester College amongst a range of corporates and academic and innovation bodies locally and regionally.

For more information visit the Golden Valley Development website.

About Cheltenham Borough Council

Cheltenham Borough Council has demonstrated its long-term commitment to the development with the acquisition of 45 ha of allocated land. This investment of £37.5million is the biggest single purchase ever made by the council. The project has received funding from local and national government bodies, including £22million investment from GFirst LEP to improve transport infrastructure surrounding the Golden Valley Development site. Also, the council has a further £180million funding available to increase the delivery of high-quality homes.

It is expected that the first phase of the development – Cyber Central UK – will be completed by 2023. Cheltenham is home to the biggest concentration of cyber tech businesses outside of London, and this development will make Cheltenham the Cyber Capital of the UK.