Economic Development

News and in-depth coverage of economic development for town planners, including employment land and simplified planning areas.

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Economic Development News

Stansted Airport. Image: Bethany Clarke/Getty

Inspector approves Stansted Airport expansion

An inspector has approved an extension to Stansted Airport in Essex, despite concerns over heritage impacts to the original terminal building, designed in 1991 by Sir Norman Foster.

London's Royal Courts of Justice (cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Robert Lamb -

Judge quashes 300-home town centre permission due to ‘poorly drafted’ local plan policy

The High Court has quashed a council's planning consent for a 300-home mixed-use scheme on a derelict town centre site, ruling that a "poorly-drafted" local plan policy meant a rival developer's challenge to the permission must succeed.

Shewsbury aerial view

Inspectors criticise council’s ‘confusing’ attempt to address neighbouring authorities’ need in draft plan

Inspectors have told a local authority that its attempt to address their concerns about its ability to meet the housing and employment needs of several neighbouring authorities via its emerging local plan was “overly complicated and confusing” and have asked it to carry out further work.

HS2 poster

What the government’s decision to ditch the northern leg of HS2 means for planners

Local authorities may have to delay plan-making work and developers reassess their proposals following the scrapping of the HS2 rail link north of Birmingham, while one authority is seeking compensation from the government for the resources it has invested in work related to the project.

Latest economic development comment

Will the last person to leave an office please turn out the lights? by Graeme Bell

Increases in home working and falls in organisations' office floorspace promise to radically change where jobs are located over the coming 25 years, says our columnist.

Britain is the Slow Man of Europe after cancellation of HS2 northern leg, by Graeme Bell

You can travel 800 miles through France by train in three hours - but in the UK, you'd be lucky to get out of your county in that time. And the levelling up boost will be just as slow in arriving, says our columnist.

How planners across the Commonwealth can tackle climate change and inequality, by Cliff Hague

Planners in Commonwealth nations working together can help address the challenges raised by urbanisation, including climate change and growing inequality, according to our columnist.

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Economic Development In Depth

aerial view of oxford

What Whitehall’s stepping back from a growth 'arc' project means for planning

A new partnership led by local authorities in the Oxford-Cambridge 'arc' has taken up the mantle of driving growth in the area. However, its focus on economic development and environmental issues rather than collaboration on housing and spatial planning means the sub-region will struggle to meet its development needs, observers fear.

Room 106 thumbnail image

Room 106, ep23: Yet another new planning bill, the implications of the government’s promised investment zones and what we learnt at the Labour Party conference

The Planning team looks at industry's reaction to plans for new bill to speed infrastructure delivery, provides a roundup of the Labour Party conference, deep dives into the proposed investment zones and covers the latest consultancy acquisitions.

Quayside and cultural quarter next to the River Hull. Image: Getty

What planners can expect from the government’s new investment zones

Proposals for new "investment zones" with deregulated planning rules may mean a lack of affordable housing and key infrastructure in the areas designated, some observers fear, and could involve a revival of the planning white paper's 'zoning' proposals.

Southampton docks: the Solent is one of 11 areas across the UK to be granted a freeport zone (Credit: Getty Images)

How freeports are changing planning

Freeports were supposed to bring special planning freedoms, but there has been little sign of this so far at the two front runners. With nine more on the way, is that about to change?

Economic Development Comment

Catriona Riddell

In the planning battle of the Blues, Cambridge sails ahead while Oxford is floundering, by Catriona Riddell

A comparison between the two prestigious university cities shows the value of strong partnerships and the cost of cross-boundary hostilities, says our columnist

Catriona Riddell

Why the government needs to introduce a national spatial plan to help levelling up, by Catriona Riddell

England's lack of a national spatial plan is “an obvious and glaring gap in the whole approach to levelling up”, says our columnist. The current government does not seem keen on the idea, but it could be introduced via a review of national planning policy.

Graeme Bell

The government could spark a regional revival by backing electric car-making, by Graeme Bell

EU governments are boosting their own motor industries’ electric car-making, but the unshackled UK is being left behind. It’s not too late, though, says our columnist.

Cliff Hague

Why global leaders are finally listening to the warnings that planners have been making for decades, by Cliff Hague

A new report by a United Nations (UN) body highlights the key role of planning in solving many of the challenges faced by the world's cities. And it seems like global leaders are finally getting the message.