Microsoft invests in the UK's north, set to build a gigantic 'hyperscale data center'

Skelton Grange that will have Microsoft data center
The Skelton Grange, which is southeast of Leeds, England, will have a Microsoft hyperscale data center in the near future. (Image credit: Harworth Group)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft will build a "hyperscale data center" on a 48-acre site southeast of Leeds, England.
  • Microsoft President Brad Smith once described the UK as "closed for business" but Microsoft has since invested heavily in the country.
  • The north of the UK is in need of investment, according to many economic experts.

Microsoft will build a "hyperscale data center" on a site south of Leeds, England. The tech giant has agreed to purchase 48-acres of the 162-acre site from the Harworth Group for £106.6 million ($135.66 million), as reported by the BBC. The completion of the sale is expected in 2026.

The move will see Microsoft invest in the north of England, which seemed unlikely until recently.

Microsoft and UK governing bodies have a complicated relationship. The tech giant famously battled with the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard. The UK forced Microsoft to divest some licenses to Ubisoft and at one point during the legal battle an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said the UK was "closed for business." Smith described that period as some of the "darkest days" for Microsoft in the UK.

RELATED: Microsoft waves goodbye to underwater data centers

Members of the UK parliament, which is notably independent from the CMA, criticized the CMA's stance and legal battle with Microsoft. After a lengthy back-and-forth between Microsoft and the CMA, it seems things have been ironed out. Microsoft ultimately was able to acquire Activision Blizzard and Smith called the CMA's actions "tough, but fair." Smith also highlighted Microsoft's plans to invest £2.5 billion ($3.18 billion) into UK cloud infrastructure and AI during an interview with the BBC in January 2024.

Microsoft announced plans to spend roughly $3.2 billion on the UK's AI infrastructure last December.

The investment includes sites in London, Cardiff, and potentially northern England. Microsoft will also invest in AI upscaling by training one million people. The tech giant also plans to work with the UK government and AI Safety Institute to ensure things are secure. Microsoft launched its AI hub in London in April 2024 as part of its investment plan.

Moving further north in the UK, Microsoft will now build its hyperscale data center near Leeds, England. That investment will be welcomed by those in the region, as many consider the region to be in desperate need of investment, as outlined by Sky News.

"And as for UK job creation via Microsoft's sizeable cloud investments, as a Brit, I'd say we need all the help we can get," said our Senior Editor Jez Corden earlier this year when speaking of Smith's statements about investment in the UK. "Let's get a nice big data center in the North too, yeah?"

It appears Corden and Microsoft are on the same page, as the tech giant is now set to create its hyperscale data center in the north of England.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at