Report calls for simplification of enterprise zone planning rules

Consideration should be given to simplifying the planning process within enterprise zones through the introduction of measures similar to Simplified Planning Zones, a cross-party group of MPs and Peers has urged.

Enterprise zones: report calls for simpler planning rules
Enterprise zones: report calls for simpler planning rules

The report by the All Party Urban Development Group (APUDG) said the next government should further extend devolutionary powers to the UK’s cities and regions to promote growth and close the UK’s north-south divide.

It said devolving powers to local authorities would allow for "greater understanding of local challenges, and greater use of local strengths".

Among its recommendations was a call to improve the offer in enterprise zones, and gear it more closely to local conditions.

It added: "Renewed consideration also needs to be given to introducing powers for using ‘Enterprise Zone Schemes’ for the grant of planning permission, instead of relying on local development orders as the means to simplifying the planning process within the zones."

According to a spokesman for the BPF, Enterprise Zone Schemes could see the creation of a concept similar to the former Simplified Planning Zones (SPZ), which relaxed planning rules in an effort to encourage development.

SPZs are defined areas in which specific forms of development can proceed without the need for planning permission.

The report, which was published in partnership with property lobby group with the British Property Federation and consultancy Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners, also said Tax Increment Financing (TIF) should be used more constructively.

TIF enables public bodies to borrow money to fund infrastructure against the expected increase in business rates that it will generate.

It said: "Lessons can be learned from the successful use of TIF and how it can be applied to other areas where upfront infrastructure expenditure is the key barrier to progress.

"Many more currently unviable schemes could be taken forward if the government allowed TIF to be used more widely, within a set of rigorous parameters such as those advocated by the BPF and others."

Paul Uppal, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Urban Development and the MP for Wolverhampton South West, said: "This Government has aimed to secure the economic future of the UK through pro-growth policies, and by supporting businesses by offering competitive levels of taxation, unlocking investment and financing infrastructure spending.

"Governments can always learn, and as we look beyond 2015 this report gives a vital insight into what has succeeded and how we can build and improve upon the growth initiatives this Government has put in place."

Going for Growth: Reviewing the Effectiveness of Government Growth Initiatives can be read here.

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