Re: Huawei was intent on spending $1.2Bn on it's on a Communications Research Facility in UK.
This sounds more like SONIC Labs are providing a building and the vendors will be expected to supply the kit and instrumentation they need to do the testing.
So, if for example company 'x' wants to promote their kit they set up some racks of it at SONIC and other companies bring their own kit and try it out together to see what problems arise.
If you want to have an open multi-vendor telecoms equipment industry, then you need some sort of neutral meeting place where interoperability tests and demonstrations can take place.
I'm not 100 per cent sure that this is what happening, but it's the impression that I get from the story.