Japanese telecom giant NTT Communications is planning two data centres that will span 53,000 sq. metres in the London borough of Dagenham, The Stack has found.

The proposed data centres, if built, would become one of the largest sites in the UK. Planning documents suggest it would be ready by late 2019 and employ 108 full-time staff.

Local government in the area is going on a digital drive through the Digital Dagenham and Be First programs, both of which aim to bring investment and innovation to the borough.

The site was formerly occupied by Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, but now houses the Londoneast-uk Business & Technical Park, which is home to a £3.8m high-tech science research and development centre and a new film studio.

NTT’s data centre would be the third major digital investment in the new park, and according to a council document, will bring in £1.5 billion of ‘new infrastructure and business investment into the Borough of Barking and Dagenham and this part of east London.’

The council appears keen to get the data centres running as quickly as possible, choosing to forgo a Section 106 requirement, which usually stipulates contribution to the local economy – in the form of funding for nearby schools if it were a housing estate, for instance. On this occasion, it has decided that this is ‘not necessary’, in order to expedite the process, instead trusting that a condition within the planning application itself will be enough to ensure NTT contributes to local employment.

Latest figures from Barking and Dagenham found that the borough had an unemployment rate of 7.7% compared to 5.3% in London as a whole and 4.4% across the UK. NTT has outlined a detailed plan for local employment as part of the application, which includes a requirement that 25% of jobs go to locals. As there are 108 jobs expected from the site, this would mean 27 new jobs for Barking and Dagenham residents.

MP for Dagenham and Rainham, Jon Cruddas, told The Stack: “The data centre is part of our vision to reposition Dagenham’s economy into the 21st century away from heavy manufacturing into growth sectors, like media and technology.

“The 25% local employment target is a minimum and we expect this to be comfortably exceeded due to the measures agreed in the Employment and Skills Strategy NTT has developed with the Council.”

NTT was unable to provide any more detailed information on the proposed facilities. A spokesperson said that at this point, no official decision has been made.

A Be First spokesperson confirmed that the size of the overall development will cover around 53,000 sq. metres, but was unable to provide any further information, with the application due for consideration by the council’s planning committee in the summer.

Both data centres and the gatehouse have plans in place for solar panels, which combined will generate up to 1.75MWh of power, in what NTT says would be the largest single solar facility in the borough and the largest bespoke rooftop array in London.

The site on which the data centre is being built was previously ‘highly contaminated’, but since the closure of the pharmaceutical plant, a period of cleaning has been undertaken and now it has been decided that the site can be used for commercial purposes again.