From Letter to All Local Authority Leaders today
For a list of all Investment Zones policy documents see my last post here He said
I must be clear; Investment Zones are not about rolling back environmental
protections across the country, nor imposing unrealistic and unsuitable housing and
development on places. [yes it was] Investment Zones will be specific sites, put forward and
agreed to by local areas, that will drive economic growth and investment across a
wider geography in a way that is right for them. Zones will not be dictated by central
Today I am launching an Expression of Interest (EOI) process for Investment Zones,
moving quickly and in partnership to deliver this important programme of work. The
EOI is open to all upper tier local authorities and Mayoral Combined Authorities
(MCAs) in England who will have until 14 October to develop and submit their
We will launch the online portal to submit these proposals in due course but have
published the EOI template on GOV.UK here:
Submitted EOIs will be subject to an assessment of:
• Economic Opportunity: where places will need to set out what type of sites
they intend to bring forward with their Investment Zones proposal, including
the estimated impact of these over 10 years against a set of core metrics.
• Pace of Delivery: setting out what is needed to accelerate the delivery of
existing plans or drive the delivery of new ones. This will include specific
information regarding the size, location and make up of potential sites.
• Wider Strategic Considerations: including the live and potential private and
public investments proposed Investment Zones can align with to drive
I am conscious of the demands that the tight timeline will have on local authorities,
which is why we will shortly publish additional guidance and FAQs on GOV.UK to
support the development of your proposals.
We intend to announce those proposals that meet the minimum standard, set out in
the marking guidance, shortly after the bidding period, and we will enter detailed
delivery discussions with these places to determine the exact tax incentives and
planning liberalisation measures that will apply.
I want to reiterate that local consent is critical to achieving all this. That is why we are
requiring confirmation that the Local Planning Authority supports any proposal for an
Investment Zone as part of the EOI process. I also encourage all lower tier local
authority leaders and Chief Executives to engage with their upper tier local authority
and MCA to make sure that any proposal is right for that area.
This contains three u-turns on investment Zones even from the policy annoucement DCLU produced yesterday (yes Sunday) suggesting the government is in dramtic u-turn mode.
The first – any relaxation of Habitat and other regs will havr to be agreed by local councils
The second – the EOI assessment criteria are different than yesterday – reminds me of the Homes England Garden City’s form which had a completly different set of EOI criteria than the departments prospectus
The third – rather than being driven by upper tier authorities now LPAs have to agree to everything
Here is a video of loal authorities queing up to remove their own powers to require affordable housing, S106, CIL and not apply their own local plan policies.
So lets be clear Investment Zones are as much history as the 45p tax cut. They are history because except perhaps for a few specific Gigafactory and Freeport sites no one will apply – especially not for housing.
So the policy no longer makes sense as investment in these sites is going ahead anyway – it is not net new. So a massive deadweight loss to the Treasury in tax income.
Again as this attempt at planning reform has failed out of the gate Trus and Clarke will be forced to think again on their remaining silly planning policies – their Pickes likke obsession with Tractor Factory Targets and locals being able to have stupidly housing figures in local plans etc.