Plans to build a new cyber centre in Cheltenham have taken a huge step forward after the government provisionally committed to providing £20 million for the first phase.

Land next to GCHQ (the UK’s intelligence, security and cyber centre) has been earmarked for the £1 billion project, which could bring 12,000 jobs and 3,700 new homes to the area – including 1,000 low carbon homes built on the site itself.

Now, central government has followed Cheltenham Borough Council (which itself has put £130 million into the project) in putting the money forward to help these plans become a reality.

As well as its flagship cyber centre, the 47-hectare Golden Valley development could also offer 1 million square feet of commercial space, plus green open land and a new primary school. Its so-called Innovation Centre would provide office space for cybersecurity and AI businesses, clustering them together to promote collaborative working.

The centre is expected to align closely with UK universities to help train the next generation of cyber experts. It will also work with the local community to further develop the area as a tech hub, as Gloucestershire is already home to the UK’s largest number of cyber businesses outside of London.

In a previous interview the former Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Matt Warman, said that Golden Valley would “play a major role cementing the country’s place as a global leader in the field.”

He added that government investment would continue to “tackle barriers to growth and boost people’s digital skills so we can usher in a golden age in UK tech.”

This latest government provision puts Golden Valley on target to begin construction sometime in the winter of 2024, with a view to open Phase One by summer 2026. The latest round of investment also adds to previous support for the scheme, with central government funding now thought to total in the region of £52 million.