Google paid £88.2m for North Weald Airfield land

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Google paid a council £88.2m for 52 acres (21 hectares) of land at a former RAF airbase, a report has shown.

Epping Forest District Council announced the sale of part of North Weald Airfield in Essex in late January to create a data center campus.

A report prepared for a committee meeting showed the search engine giant paid about £1.7m an acre.

The figure had been “commercially sensitive” during negotiations, a council spokesman said.

The council said the airfield, where Battle of Britain crews were based during World War Two, would “continue to function as an operational aerodrome”.

“The potential that this development brings is immense – not only in terms of advancing our digital infrastructure but also in generating high-quality, well-paid employment opportunities and bolstering our local economy,” Chris Whitbread, leader of the Conservative-controlled council, had said.

“The sale makes the best use of the land available at North Weald Airfield, both in terms of driving forward our local economy as well as meeting the recommendations of the strategic masterplan.”

Image caption,

Google said it wanted “the option to expand our technical infrastructure”

Google previously said in a statement: “While we do not have a confirmed timeline for development, we want to ensure we have the option to expand our technical infrastructure, should our business demand it.”

The value of the deal appears in a report prepared for an Audit and Governance Committee meeting.

A council spokesman told the BBC the figure had originally been given to councillors in private reports.

“The money will be invested in the hope of generating more money,” added the spokesman.

“We are always looking at the long term.”

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