As iCITY plans await approval, we take a look at this dramatic vision to create a second “Tech City” by transforming former Olympic facilities in Hackney into a state-of-the-art business community.
What is iCITY?
In a nutshell, iCITY is an ambitious plan to transform the former Press and Broadcast Centres on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park into a world-leading creative and digital cluster. Delancey and Infinity SDC have formed a joint venture to develop the site and submitted their plans for approval back in November 2013.
Overall, more than 1m sq ft of space will be created across the site. Three main buildings will form the focal point for the new tech community: a 300,000 sq ft innovation centre, a 1,000 seat auditorium, and an 850,000 sq ft building containing office space and a state-of-the-art data centre.
These will be complemented by a range of shops, cafés and restaurants and a landscaped public realm which will turn the new development into a community destination.
Once fully operational, it is expected to boost the local economy by £340m, while boosting national GDP by £460m.
What types of business will be based here?
Despite the fact that planning permission has yet to be received, space within the iCITY development is already 40% pre-let to a string of high-profile tenants. BT Sport has taken 80,000 sq ft of space within a production hub, while Loughborough University has committed to running a postgraduate facility on the site.
Other pre-let tenants include Hackney Community College and Infinity SDC. The latter are also partners in the iCITY development and will use it to establish one of the largest data centres in Europe.
It’s not just for corporates though. The developers are looking to attract a diverse range of creative and digital companies, including startups and small businesses which will be encouraged to set up in the incubator and accelerator spaces provided onsite.
So what happens next?
A decision on planning permission is due later this month. If the committee gives it the green light, the developers expect to begin work this summer, with the complete site fully operational by 2018. Provided that the project runs according to schedule, the tenants (with the exception of BT Sport, which is already broadcasting from the site) will begin to move into their iCITY premises from 2015.
As iCITY CEO Gavin Poole says: “iCITY will attract the best talent, companies and investment from around the world. We now very much look forward to moving into the construction phase and delivering a lasting economic and social legacy from London 2012.”
The iCITY team won’t be the only ones watching with keen interest as it evolves.
Will iCITY match Tech City as a world-class TMT hub?