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Eight areas to trial business-led planning

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Eight business groups in English urban areas are to trial the government’s plan to allow businesses to lead the local planning process.

The eight ‘frontrunner’ areas will test out an approach being proposed in the Localism Bill to develop a business-led ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ for local business areas and town, planning minister Greg Clark said.

Mr Clark said the eight would work with local councils and community groups to prepare the planning and development framework to bring development to their area. If these are later passed in a local referendum they will be adopted by the council, Mr Clark said.

The areas are: Aldershot Town Centre; Bankside, London; Central Milton Keynes; Liverpool Innovation Park; Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead; Trafford Park, Manchester; South Bank, London, New West End Company, London.

Mr Clark said: “We need to involve local companies more explicitly in neighbourhood planning decisions for business areas if communities are to get the most out of them.

“Businesses have access to skills, resources and expertise that can give a real boost to getting the right kind of growth underway in many areas.

“Ensuring all members of a community are involved in driving development in their neighbourhood is central to our planning reforms and local businesses are an equally important part of many communities.”

The Department for Communities & Local Government said the business-led neighbourhood plans would aim to “spearhead the right development swiftly” by making it easier to change the designated use of buildings and expand facilities to meet changing needs and remove the need to apply to the council for every adaptation made to a building.

John Brooks, DTZ director of planning, said: “The proposal to allow local businesses to get involved in neighbourhood planning makes very good sense and will come as welcome relief to businesses, particularly those in town and city centres.

“In most cases, business people in town and city centres are likely to outnumber residents. Under the current proposals in the Localism Bill, those businesses and their employees would have no say in the planning process of the neighbourhoods where they work. 

“The proposals as they stand may be suitable for small villages or the suburbs where local residents live, but they are not appropriate for the mix of residents and workers in larger towns and cities.

“It is important to involve local businesses in the planning process together with residents.  Businesses’ views on planning go hand in hand with those of residents and striking a balance between the two voices is key.” 

The announcement comes as the Localism Bill moves to report stage and follows new amendments that were introduced to strengthen the promotion of growth.

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