20th October 2022
As part of its levelling up agenda, the UK government has indicated a desire to drive economic growth and the accelerated delivery of much-needed additional housing through the introduction of ‘Investment Zones’. Intended to facilitate the development of successful and prosperous communities, Investment Zones suggest time-limited tax cuts and streamlined planning measures designed to expedite residential and commercial development. While many of the measures announced in September’s controversial ‘mini budget’ have been scrapped, the new Chancellor has confirmed that Investment Zones will remain. So, what do we know so far? Walker Morris’ Planning & Environment Partner Richard Sagar explains.
Specific sites within a Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA) or Upper Tier Local Authority (UTLA) may be designated Investment Zones following an MCA’s/UTLA’s expression of interest. The opportunity to submit an express of interest will be open to all MCAs/UTLAs UK-wide. Discussions are already ongoing between the government and some 38 interested authorities. The government has not yet published qualifying criteria, but sites will have to meet the following broad requirements:
Local authorities are also being encouraged to secure ‘business sponsors’ to help spearhead investment opportunities. The Government intends the Investment Zone initiative to complement the Freeports programme. Freeports will be able to apply to become Investment Zones and may be well placed to do so.
Investment Zones will benefit from tax incentives which will be in place for approximately ten years, including:
To support swift delivery of Investment Zones, the government proposes to:
The aims of the Investment Zone scheme are clear, bold and development-friendly. Significant commercial prospects could benefit well-informed and progressive local authorities and businesses within the build sector over the coming years. The planning and regulatory landscape is still evolving and Walker Morris will report on key developments. Walker Morris’ Planning & Environment and Real Estate specialists are experienced in advising residential and commercial developers and operators through the entire life cycle of a project, from structuring and funding, to strategic land issues, planning and managing construction, and project completion. Walker Morris is therefore ideally placed to provide comprehensive and cross-discipline legal support to authorities and businesses looking to capitalise upon the opportunities that Investment Zones may afford.
For further advice or assistance in relation to Investment Zones, or in relation to development schemes or prospects in general, please contact Richard Sagar or any member of the Planning & Environment team.