In the recent budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced the creation of 21 new Enterprise Zones in Local Enterprise Partnership areas (LEPs) in England.  These LEPs, which will consist of representatives from the local authority and local businesses, replace regional development agencies to promote local economic development. 

How will they work?

It is hoped that economic growth will be encouraged by a mix of financial incentives and a more relaxed planning regime in these zones.  As such, there is a strong desire to remove barriers to private sector growth through reduced burdens for businesses, particularly in terms of lower tax levels, planning and other regulatory and administrative burdens in these areas.  The key benefits these new zones will enjoy are:

  • a 100% business rate discount worth up to £275,000 over a five year period for businesses that move into an Enterprise Zone during the current Parliament;
  • all business rates growth within the zone for a period of at least 25 years will be retained and shared by the local authorities in the LEPs to support local priorities and local reinvestment;
  • Government and local authority help to develop radically simplified planning approaches in the        Enterprise Zones; and
  • Government support to ensure that superfast broadband is rolled out throughout the Enterprise   Zones.

There is no blueprint as to how the planning system is to be simplified. However, it is widely believed that Local Development Orders will be used.  These expand the types of development which can proceed without the need for formal planning permission. 

Where will they be?

The exact location of each zone will be a matter for each LEP. However, the Government is encouraging these LEPs to select areas where there are real opportunities for growth and not just areas of dereliction.  As these zones aim to create new businesses and new jobs, it is important that when selecting the zone they are based on 'clean sites' with little or no business occupants.

The precise locations of four zones have been announced.  These will be at Boots' campus in Nottingham, Liverpool Waters, Manchester Airport and London’s Royal Docks.   A further seven LEPs will have zones, although the exact locations of the sites have yet to be named.  These are at Birmingham and Solihull, Sheffield, Leeds, the Bristol area, the Black Country, Teeside and the north east.  A further ten will be announced in due course.

It is now a question of watch this space and we will keep you updated with the latest developments.