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Office space in Cheltenham fitted with “war room” to train against potential cyber attacks approved – Gloucestershire Live

Ransomware BCyber todaySeptember 3, 2020 35

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Office space fitted with a “war room” training centre to prepare for potential cyber attacks has been given the go-ahead to be built in a Cheltenham car park.

WorkShop Group will turn the 60-space private car park off Chester Walk, at the back of Cheltenham Library, into a new £5million office and conference space with a capacity of 300 people.

The scheme will be used as a pilot for developments at the planned cyber business park, the UK’s first campus focused around the rapidly growing cyber-tech sector and would be built on land near GCHQ.

The LDRS reported in March that the proposal to use 31 shipping containers to create the hub was called off as it could not provide “flexible, open plan spaces” needed for modern working, a council document said.

The later abandoned idea was given planning permission in June 2019.

Cheltenham Borough Council’s planning committee approved the new development by a majority of six yesterday (Thursday August 20).

Some borough councillors however said the design was “appalling” as it does not compliment the Grade I-listed Cheltenham Minster, formerly known as St Mary’s Church.

Cheltenham Borough Councillor Bernie Fisher (LD, Swindon Village) said in the meeting: “There must be better alternative of design. This is probably the worst design, in my opinion, and not only in my opinion it is a poor design by the Architects Panel, the civic society and Heritage England.

“If we pass this today we will be doing the people of Cheltenham a disservice. Not with what it provides, but what it is in. It really is an appalling design.”

Cheltenham Borough Councillor Stephen Cook (C, Leckhampton) said: “It just worries me that this is going to be something that will be there for a very, very long time slap-bang next to one of your principal heritage assets.

“I think it it would be a mistake to rush into something which we might subsequently regret.”

Liberal Democrat borough councillor Simon Wheeler (Hester’s Way) spoke in favour of the design.

He said: “There is no reason this cannot be a really attractive building. It does not have to be built in the same style as the Minster itself or some beautiful Regency building.

“Let us have something a little bit different, let us have something that is modern.”

The Cheltenham Minster is said to be the oldest building in the town and the only surviving medieval construction, but is also a spot for litter and anti-social behaviour.

Jason Pritchard, of Edge Design Workshop which is the agent of the applicant, said in the meeting: “In order to emphasise the relationship with the church and its grounds, we have been working on the wider public realm masterplan which will include new seating, lighting and planting to the church grounds as well as two new footpaths which will take visitors to the existing work of footpaths to the entrance of the WorkShop Cheltenham building.”

The ground floor will be occupied by a GFirst LEP Growth Hub and the new headquarters for Cheltenham Festivals, and there will be more than 200 co-working desks.

Mr Pritchard added: “The top floor there is now going to be a dedicated cyber training zone which will include an accelerator for new businesses, and a war room where large organisations who have staff trained in dealing with a range of cyber attacks.”

Earlier this month GFirst LEP announced it received £3.1m of Government funding to push the project forward.

The scheme aims to plug a deficit in flexible and affordable office space for start-ups and small businesses in the creative sectors in Cheltenham, as well as providing providing a new community and event space in the town centre.

This content was originally published here.

Written by: BCyber

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