The Government has announced significant amendments to the Localism Bill to promote economic growth. The amendments would broaden the role of Neighbourhood Plans which could now be set up expressly for “promoting the carrying on of trades, professions or other businesses in such an area”, strengthening the role of business in Neighbourhood Planning.
The Government has also announced the “Business Neighbourhoods” initiative which is based on the Department for Communities and Local Government’s “Neighbourhood Planning Frontrunners” scheme. Milton Keynes Central and Bankside, London, are the first two ‘frontrunner’ areas to be announced under the scheme. Business Neighbourhoods will promote commercial development in various towns and parishes by granting a local development order (LDO), a mechanism designed to give specific types of development planning permission without the need to apply to the local authority. As part of the scheme, businesses will be given the opportunity to vote on the local development plans usually restricted to local residents. Section 70 of the TCPA 1990 (determination of applications for planning permission: general considerations) will also be amended, adding a new consideration to make “any local finance considerations” material to an application.
What are the opportunities for business?
These amendments represent a great opportunity for business. They will help to unblock sites and opportunities previously held up by restrictive planning policies which have inhibited the ability of businesses to grow and respond to the changing needs, demands and requirements of customers. The amendments will help enable businesses to remain competitive in a rapidly changing economic market. The granting of LDOs will provide a flexible long term framework providing certainty for businesses, allowing future change and direction to be accommodated. The amendments will represent major cost savings for businesses as it will enable an alternative route to the traditional planning application process to be followed.