Investment Zones, will they have the desired effect?

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Investment Zones, will they have the desired effect?

Published 24 octubre 2022

Despite the political turmoil this week, Investment Zones appear to be here to stay. Within Investment Zones development would be “turbo charged” through low(er) taxes and liberalised planning rules; including the removal of EU requirements, an increased focus on developer contributions for infrastructure, a reduction in consultation and a relaxation of policy requirements.

14 October saw the closing of the portal for Investment Zone expressions of interest. Whilst the headline ‘Investment Zones’ sounds new and original, in planning terms they are reliant upon a rarely used method of development consenting known as Local Development Orders, introduced almost two decades ago.

It appears that the Government is trying to dust off old planning tools in an attempt to encourage local planning authorities to push through planning decisions with no new powers and no ‘new’ funding – albeit the existing ‘Brownfield Land Release’ and ‘Levelling Up’ funds will play a part. Planning authorities are essentially being asked to “do better”. With our local authorities already under-resourced, how will they find the staff and find the funds to push forward Investment Zones?

Whilst we would like to be optimistic about the impact of Investment Zones, it is difficult in this current climate of high inflation and cuts to public spending, to predict that they will have the desired outcomes for boosting delivery – let alone “Building Beautifully”. The more pressing issue for planning remains the future of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and whether under new leadership the Government will have the confidence to take forward reform at a time when the development industry needs predictability to support already difficult investment decisions.

Authors

Charlotte Coyle

Charlotte Coyle

London - Walbrook

+44 (0) 207 894 6095

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