Industrial property giant Goodman Group plans to spend $1.4 billion to redevelop the former ABC television studios on Sydney’s North Shore into a giant data centre.
Goodman Property Services (Aust) is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment for a seven-storey data centre on the 1.4ha site at Artarmon, about 5km north of Sydney’s centre.
The environmental statement comes after the NSW government issued Goodman with industry-specific Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) last week.
In a document before the director of industry assessment, Goodman said it wanted to demolish existing buildings and undertake bulk excavation before building, fitting out and operating a data centre at 2-8 Lanceley Place and 14 Campbell Street, Artarmon.
“The existing developments on site are specialised to the ABC’s prior studio operations, and are not fit for purpose for market requirements,” Goodman’s head of planning Guy Smith wrote.
The ABC headquarters, which included the broadcaster’s main transmission tower, was opened by then-prime minister Robert Menzies on November 5, 1956 ahead of the ABC’s first television broadcast, from the building that same day.
Goodman acquired the site in July of 2022, paying $94.87 million. A lease-back arrangement with the ABC ended about 12 months ago.
“The site provides strong strategic merit to accommodate the booming requirements for data centre operators and hyper-scalers, in a location that leverages immediately surrounding infrastructure and unlocks capacity to meet the demands for cloud data storage, enterprise uses and AI (artificial intelligence),” Smith said.
The resulting data centre would be 52m high, include ancillary offices and provide parking for 34 vehicles. The facility would use 80MVA (mega-volt amps) of electricity.
The site is opposite existing infrastructure with significant electricity capacity owned by Ausgrid, the biggest energy distributor on Australia’s eastern seaboard.
Other data centre providers, such as NextDC and Keppel Data Centres, have big facilities in the nearby Gore Hill Technology Park.
Smith said the department of planning and environment had proposed to restrict data centre use to the nearby E2-Commericial Core Zone of Macquarie Park’s first stage.
“This further reduces the number of viable sites of scale well located near existing infrastructure for potential data centre use, placing pressure on surrounding land such as the site to provide suitable land to support this high demand typology,” he wrote.
The publicly traded property developer’s latest move brings it one step closer to its plans to become a major global player in the provision of data centres over the next decade.
“We currently have a global power bank of 3.7 gigawatts,” chief executive Greg Goodman told the company’s annual general meeting in November. “Of this, approximately 2 gigawatts have been secured, with the remainder in advanced stages.”
He said data centres represented about 25 per cent of the company’s work in progress.
“The opportunities in data centres are going to be an increasing contributor to our growth, as escalating technology, and computer processing power requirements, generate unprecedented demand.”
The growth of artificial intelligence is fuelling explosive growth in data centres around the world and in Australia.
By most estimations there are currently about 300 data centres across the country, with Sydney (and regional NSW) hosting about 60 per cent of them.
But critically, the online property development monitor BCI Central shows at least another 42 data centres have gone into various stages of planning or development in the past 18 months. Collectively, they represent a capital investment of slightly less than $10 billion.