back to article GCHQ's exploding doughnut threatens to ooze into innocent field

GCHQ's £330m headquarters in Gloucestershire, which was built in 2003, is already inadequate for the jam-packed Doughnut's workers – leading the agency to apply for planning permission to build more offices on its car park. The new building would be located on GCHQ's existing site, and its 4,500m2 will be spread across "a …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Only Temporary????

    The Pre-fabs that were built after WW2 were only temporary. Yet how many are still lived in today?

    So Mr GCHQ, why don't you say in what 5-year plans these will be demolished? Perhaps you really mean the 2075-2080 version?

    As for the car parling. Why can't this temporary building be built on stilts over the car park? Then you get to keep the existing spaces AND hide all those employee cars from the ever present Russian/Chinese/Indian spy satellites.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Only Temporary????

      Presumably they are doing this merely to expand the car-park. After protracted rounds of negotiation with the council, they will mutually agree to not build the eyesore building, but keep the carpark proposal. Job done.

      Typical planning strategy - put in for something outrageous, then "back-down" and agree to build what you wanted to in the first place, with all the local NIMBYs saying "phew, well at least it's not a <PET PEEVE>".

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Only Temporary????

        Ive been using that strategy for my budget planning for years. I thought it was common use?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Permission granted unanimously after each Councillor was shown their "file" while on a tour of the site.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      file containing various "pictures" and voice recordings from their mobile (that was turned off in their pocket)

  3. url

    there's an opportunity here

    to get an Arial photo that looks like a giant:

    I O

    That really ought not be passed up.

    1. PNGuinn
      Headmaster

      Re: there's an opportunity here

      Hmmm ... a photo in Comic Sans might be more appropriate.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. TheNix
      Pint

      Re: there's an opportunity here

      You dingbats!

      If there's a bad fonts joke out there, I've yet to hear it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: there's an opportunity here

        > If there's a bad fonts joke out there, I've yet to hear it.

        I'll send you one by courier.

        1. Ol'Peculier

          Re: there's an opportunity here

          Get with the Times.

      2. x 7

        Re: there's an opportunity here

        thats comic sans

    3. tirk

      Re: there's an opportunity here

      Why don't they just use the vacant space they've got on their San Serif listening post/secret island base?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: there's an opportunity here

      Better than forming an 'I O', orient the long axis of the "rectangular floor plate" through the centre of the 'doughnut' to form the handle of a giant magnifying glass.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: there's an opportunity here

        That would make a quite interesting building.

    5. Andrew Moore
      Coat

      Re: there's an opportunity here

      If I was then, I'd get the helvetica...

    6. John Savard Silver badge

      Re: there's an opportunity here

      I take it you meant an aerial photograph that looked like a giant Eye of Sauron?

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "in keeping with its surroundings and help minimise the visual impact"

    New big building in the middle of the countryside looks like the big building in the middle of the countryside it's being built next to.

    1. Shannyla

      Re: "in keeping with its surroundings and help minimise the visual impact"

      In the middle of the countryside? It's in the middle of housing estate, next to a retail park. Couldn't be in a more English location, although there is a deeply suspicious Whole Foods Market next door, full of chaps speaking into their coat cuffs with 'Murican accents. Probably.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: "in keeping with its surroundings and help minimise the visual impact"

        It's in the middle of housing estate, next to a retail park

        Thereby demonstrating either incredible ineptitude in the arts of secrecy or incredible cunning in the same. One never knows with spooks :)

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: "in keeping with its surroundings and help minimise the visual impact"

          The housing estate isn't known as Raccoon City, is it?

          1. greenawayr

            Re: "in keeping with its surroundings and help minimise the visual impact"

            No, it's known as Princess Elizabeth Way and nobody minds too much if it's inhabitants are collateral damage to an attack on the doughnut. Should've built it closer to Hesters Way but I suspect cost of replacing the windows every 5 minutes would have been prohibitive.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "in keeping with its surroundings and help minimise the visual impact"

          Thereby demonstrating either incredible ineptitude in the arts of secrecy or incredible cunning in the same.

          Nobody really bothers trying to keep the exterior of secret facilities secret any more - complete waste of time with modern reconnaissance technology and the length of time these facilities are supposed to remain secure. However against this trend some organisations do still try to conceal the location of their key sites; National Grid's national control centre being one example, about a mile away from me. We all know where and what it is, guys!

          1. Bob Wheeler
            Mushroom

            Re: "in keeping with its surroundings and help minimise the visual impact"

            Somewhere around the Telford area there is a sign post to the "Secret Nuclar Bunker".

      2. LucreLout

        Re: "in keeping with its surroundings and help minimise the visual impact"

        It's in the middle of housing estate, next to a retail park. Couldn't be in a more English location

        Yes, putting the guys with the uber high resolution cameras and listening gear right next to a ladies college has zero potential for fun.

        Hi GCHQ - Please don't tell my wife about my browsing habits. She has no idea I want to be a monk.

        1. John Savard Silver badge

          Re: "in keeping with its surroundings and help minimise the visual impact"

          Given the huge quantities of certain types of media available on the Internet, I would have thought that this sort of voyeurism was almost dead. Still, it's an idea if anyone wants to film a sequel to Confessions of a Window-Washer.

      3. annodomini2
        FAIL

        Re: "in keeping with its surroundings and help minimise the visual impact"

        It's actually on the main road going into Cheltenham, it does sit on the edge of a housing estate not in the middle, Whole food market is 2 miles away.

        1. x 7

          Re: "in keeping with its surroundings and help minimise the visual impact"

          "Whole food market is 2 miles away"

          sell a lot of nuts there?

  6. i steal your leccy
    Big Brother

    'APPROVED!'

    They'll get their own way, i mean, just imagine the DIRT they've got on all the local councillors and officials at Cheltenham Borough Council...no clean hands anywhere, anymore.

    GCHQ has got to go!

  7. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Build underground - then people can't take photos of your existing carparks.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge
      Joke

      unless you only put things overground that you WANT to be seen. All the aliens who really run GCHQ use their own underground railroad of course.

  8. John Robson Silver badge

    Just insist that they all bike to work - far easier to fit in the bikes...

    Motorbikes or pedal bikes...

    Or more realistically - just insist that they do the multistorey car park at the same time

    1. Alan_Peery

      Re: Just insist that they all bike to work - far easier to fit in the bikes...

      Or also realistically, if innovative for the UK:

      Insist that they come to work on electric bikes. The lower top speed than a car is balanced by the ability to use bike paths and keep moving past vehicles queued as the one in front turns right.

      There are some very sweet electric bikes out there. They're very popular in China, with (I think) 50% of last years bike sales being electric.

  9. I Am Spartacus
    Thumb Up

    Underground lair

    You would expect that GCHQ would really want to build underground, thus avoiding any prying eyes, long lenses, or ARIEL photography.

    All big spy organisations should have an underground lair

    ..... and a man with a monocle

    ..... and a white cat. Got to have a white cat.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Underground lair

      >> ARIEL photography.

      That's a BOLD statement. You must think of the persilnel and the dazzling array of surfing that needs to be examined.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Underground lair

        >> ARIEL photography.

        I was thinking more along the lines of 'the little mermaid'...

        I mean tasteful >> ARIEL pornography photography.

        therapy hasn't helped any obviously...

    2. url

      Re: Underground liars

      phew

      i feel better about the inevitable areolae photography of and emanating from the gchq

    3. druck Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Underground lair

      I'm extremely glad it isn't underground as the enormous donut is unmissable in any weather day or night, and makes landing on runway 27 at Staverton (Gloucestershire) Airport easy as can be. I learnt to fly there and have done hundreds of circuits directly over it, getting a view just like in the photo.

  10. lawndart

    The building always reminds me of a reel-to-reel tape spool. They should build another identical one a short way off and another smaller building between that looks like a tape reading head.

  11. adam payne

    Why not build a artificial volcano then they can have a volcano lair.

    1. hatti

      Complete with freaked out white cat

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0FcOPb-9rE

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        And fill the pond with piranhas too (making sure all employees and visitors need to walk across the only bridge across it).

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Burrow downwards

    The donut part is just the access lift.

    Underneath it's like an X-COM base.

  13. Chard
    Coat

    Wasted space

    Why don't they just fill in the middle?

    They could easily jam in there.

    [tumbleweeds]

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So many other options available..

    [ ] - Fill in the middle bit, maybe even build a tower (also a good place to put aerials). James Bond fans may suggest a rocket, but they're just being silly, villains have moved on.

    [ ] - Go underground. If Knightsbridge residents can, so can you.

    [ ] - Add a floor to the doughnut. A topping floor, so to speak. Or spinklers.

    [ ] - Provide free buses to work. Will cost less too, and is greener.

    [ ] - Outsource the work. The NSA building *is* bigger..

    [ ] - Spy less. No? Oh well, it was worth a try.

    Yes, I'm happy to remain anonymous, thank you.

    1. Steve Foster
      Big Brother

      Re: So many other options available..

      "Yes, I'm happy to remain anonymous, thank you."

      Yes, I'm happy with the appearance of being anonymous, thank you.

      There, FTFY.

      (would have liked to use the Joke Alert icon, but sadly, Big Brother is more apropos.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So many other options available..

        Yes, I'm happy with the appearance of being anonymous, thank you.

        It was more in line with the tongue-in-cheek of the rest of the post because yes, you are correct, El Reg has to follow the law just as much as the rest of us. If served with warrant, anonymous no longer is.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: So many other options available..

          but if they fill the middle in, where will thunderbird 3 launch from?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If this is the "public face" of the secret services, just imagine how extensive the secret bit must be...

  16. batfastad

    Permission

    Permission denied.

    1) Go ahead anyway, security services are above the law.

    2) Secret legal case in a secret court.

    Permission granted!

  17. Fraggle850

    They could save loads of space...

    All they need to do is stash all of our carefully secreted surfing history in the cloud (I'd suggest Amazon because it's so robust) and they could reuse all of the space that the storage must surely take up.

  18. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Not real spooks

    If they were worth their salt they'd have built the three storeys as basement levels without telling anyone ... My colleague's parents report that it's getting more difficult to walk around the estate ... they thought it was age but perhaps it's inclines made from trouser-leg-sized piles of soil nonchalantly kicked under the pavements?

  19. Derek Kingscote
    Big Brother

    Pure lack of foresight

    Anyone who has any experience of relocations knows that you always need a space that is at least 20% bigger than you think.

    The head honchos and project managers never look forward.

    The Doughnut has a total floor area of 140,000 square metres and this extension is 4,500square metres, so chances are that this won't be big enough either. Watch this space!

    Might as well watch them, since they're watching you!

    D

  20. LOW
    Mushroom

    Given the prevailing view here...

    ...of the usual government incompetence and lack of foresight, rubbed over by a poorly thought out and expensive solution, there's only one thing left to suggest:

    It's a doughnut right?

    Dunk it.

  21. x 7

    you do realise this is just a diversion while they build a new HQ elsewhere???

    Plenty of old airfields around ripe for redevelopment......whats happening at Lyneham now the centralised MOD engineering school concept has been scrapped? Lyneham isn't very far away from Cheltenham......and its a big secret site looking for a use

    1. LOW
      Unhappy

      @x7

      Methinks you might be onto something there. Lyneham that's the one just south of Junction 16 on the M4 right? There's one north of that where they hold the airshows (Fairfield or something?) and every time I was on an Orange call it dropped at a point just before junction 16 on the M4.

      Since I had a GIS specialist in the house, I asked him to give me a line between the two airbases. That line crossed the M4 at the point where my signal ALWAYS dropped.

      That was in 2000.

      Given the publications out there, the laws in place and the treaties agreed, we need to get these guys to move their envelope of secrecy well, well back from where it is.

      They won't do that, of course, because then they'll have to justify their drain on the tax payer.

      What a sad state of affairs.

      How long are we going to let this go on for?

  22. MrXavia

    Dig down

    Surly they should be building a big underground bunker, filled with hackers who never see the light of day?

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