Planning deregulation zone policy announced

New Investment Zones across the UK to accelerate development via expedited planning processes.

In his Mini Budget on the 23rd September, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, announced the creation of low-tax, deregulated Investment Zones in an attempt to “drive growth and unlock housing” across the UK.

Significant news for developers and housebuilders, the policy is set to create designated development sites to release more land for housing and commercial development. 

Businesses operating in these sites will receive a raft of tax incentives. Within the zones, there will be a full stamp duty tax cut on purchases of land or buildings for residential development and on commercial buildings bought for use or development. 

Construction will also receive fast track planning applications, as the Treasury claims that: “the need for planning applications will be minimised and where planning applications remain necessary, they will be radically streamlined.”

Proposed measures for a liberalised planning process include:

•    Removing certain EU planning requirements.
•    Focusing developer contributions on essential infrastructure requirements.
•    Reducing consultation times with statutory bodies.
•    Relaxing key national and local policy requirements.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities and the Treasury have confirmed core planning policies will remain, such as the national policy on the Green Belt, along with those that protect heritage, address flood risk, highways and other public safety matters.

The reaction from the housing industry has been lukewarm, with senior figures calling for planning reform across the whole country, not just in designated areas. 

Currently, 38 local authorities are in discussion to create Investment Zones in England, with plans expected to expand these across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Zones will only be designated following local consent and the completion of an expression of interest process by local authorities.

Further details on the scale of deregulation and the mechanisms for delivering the policy are yet to be revealed. 

To find out more about the government’s plans, click here.