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Investment Zone Expressions of Interest Submitted

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities invited expressions of interest for Investment Zones from 2 October to 14 October 2022.  The Zones will benefit from tax incentives and a streamlined planning process. It is hoped that the Zones, part of the levelling up agenda, will boost investment and commercial and residential development.  Investment Zones are one of the few remaining initiatives from the 23 September mini-budget.

Full details of how the Investment Zones will operate are not yet available.  What we do know is that the range of tax incentives, likely lasting for 10 years, are likely to include relief of business rates, stamp duty land tax and employer national insurance contributions.  The simplified planning process will respect Green Belt boundaries and require high environmental standards.  Expressions of interest must set out that the local area will require mitigation of any adverse environmental impacts, although legacy EU red tape may be disapplied if appropriate. 

On 17 October Simon Clarke (the then (for a very short period!) Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) announced that hundreds of applications had been received, with full details to be released later.  In the meantime, several Councils have released details of applications they made, amongst those Norfolk County Council that put forward 23 sites.

Oxfordshire County Council decided not to participate in the process citing concerns over the de-regularisation of planning controls and environmental protections being incompatible with the area’s net zero carbon aspirations.  Shropshire County Council were not convinced that the Zones would be a good fit with their circumstances but would monitor developments.

Government is consulting with devolved administrations to see how Investment Zones can be offered in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

No commitment has been made to the number of Zones that will come forward, government will assess the applications and consider geographical spread and fiscal costs.  If a large number of bids meet minimum standards those more ready to deliver and with greatest economic impact will be prioritised.

At this stage we do not know when the winning applications will be announced.  Government has said it will work “quickly, fairly and accurately” and will release further information “at the earliest possible opportunity”.  Accepted bids will need to be followed by delivery plans and various site assessments - if the local areas wish to proceed once they understand more about the Zones.

Posted on 4 November, 2022 by Ortolan

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