Enterprise zone moves to ease planning rules

The Tees Valley local enterprise partnership (LEP) has become the first in England to publish detailed plans for consultation setting out how it intends to simplify planning rules at sites covered by its enterprise zone.

Middlesbrough: the Tees Valley local enterprise partnership is the first to consult on local development orders to ease the need for planning permission. mickyc82 photo
Middlesbrough: the Tees Valley local enterprise partnership is the first to consult on local development orders to ease the need for planning permission. mickyc82 photo

The government-designated zone covers 12 sites across Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar and Darlington in which firms will benefit from incentives including eased planning rules, high-speed broadband, capital allowances and reduced business rates.

A government prospectus on the enterprise zones, published in March, identified local development orders (LDOs) as "the most likely planning mechanism which can be used by local authorities to reduce planning control in enterprise zones".

The little-used orders allow certain defined types of development to proceed without the need to obtain planning permission from the local authority.

Last month, the Tees Valley LEP became the first in the country to publish draft LDOs for consultation, setting out how planning rules will be simplified in six of the 12 sites covered by the enterprise zone.

An LDO for a seventh site is being developed, with the other five intended to be subject to planning performance agreements (PPAs) that aim to speed up development by providing greater certainty on timescales, costs and requirements for all parties involved.

Speaking to Planning, Linda Edworthy, director of policy and strategy at the Tees Valley LEP, said: "We want to be in a position for the new planning regimes to be operational by 1 April next year."

The orders will grant automatic planning permission to buildings in particular use classes. In some cases, the waiver of the need to obtain planning permission will be limited to certain types of businesses.

For example, the draft LDO covering the Port Estates site in Hartlepool would allow development in use classes B1 business, B2 general industrial and B8 storage and distribution. But the planning freedoms would only be available to advanced engineering, advanced manufacturing and renewable energy manufacturing firms.

The orders will allow such firms to construct buildings in the defined use classes without needing to acquire planning permission as long as they conform to conditions including design, layout and energy efficiency requirements. The LDOs will also allow changes of use between the uses specified in the documents.

The Tees Valley LEP plans to put in place PPAs for sites not covered by an LDO, which would set out timetables for development.

Edworthy said that one of these sites - Northshore in Stockton-on-Tees - already has a masterplan that has planning permission, so would not be aided by an LDO.

The other four sites are in areas that would require environmental impact assessments under European law to develop, meaning that an LDO would be prohibited.

Edworthy said: "PPAs establish a partnership framework and management programme for dealing with a development proposal. They identify the complex needs of both the project and the location from the outset so help minimise risks, decision-making delays and potential costs of appeal."

All the LDOs were drawn up by the LEP's planning steering group, Edworthy said, which consists of a planning officer from each of the five authorities in the partnership.

She added: "The steering group has been talking to statutory consultees so they are not surprised when the documents are produced. Their input helped us identify which sites were suitable for LDOs and PPAs."

Department for Communities and Local Government regeneration director Philip Cox told a conference in October that the government would like to see LDOs for all 22 approved enterprise zones in place by April 2012.

Tees Valley Enterprise Zone: proposed relaxations of planning rules

1. Port Estates local development order

Who is eligible for planning relaxation? Advanced engineering and manufacturing firms; and renewable energy manufacturing firms

What uses can be built without permission?

B1 Business Offices, research and development of products and processes, light industry appropriate in a residential area

B2 General industrial excluding incineration, chemical treatment or landfill or hazardous or inert waste

B8 Storage or distribution

2. Oakesway LDO

Who is eligible? Advanced engineering and manufacturing firms; and renewable energy manufacturing firms

What uses can be built? B1 Business

B2 General industrial

B8 Storage or distribution

3. Queen's Meadow LDO

Who is eligible? Advanced engineering and manufacturing firms; chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms; and renewable energy manufacturing firms

What uses can be built? Area A (close or adjacent to housing) and Area B

B1 Business

Area B only

B2 General industrial

B8 Storage or distribution

4. Teesside Advanced Manufacturing Park

Who is eligible? Advanced engineering and manufacturing firms

What uses can be built? B1 Business Offices

B2 General industrial Advanced engineering/manufacturing, high quality engineering

5. Kirkleatham Business Park

What uses can be built? B1 Business

B2 General industrial

B8 Storage or distribution

6. Darlington Central Park

What uses can be built?

A1 Shops

A3 Restaurants and cafes

A4 Drinking establishments

B1 Business Offices, research and development of products and processes

7. St Hilda's

Under development.


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