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Expression of Interest in Hosting Investment Zones now Open

2 min

As Liz Truss announced that Upper-tier local authorities can now lodge an expression of interest in hosting investment zones, Housing Industry Leaders highlights how this is aimed at boosting development through reduced regulation and simplified planning.

The DLUHC opened the bidding process for the zones, which was originally announced in last month’s controversial mini-budget.

Applications are welcomed from mayoral combined authorities, upper-tier councils and freeports. Expressions of interest are open until 14 October.

In order to cut red tape, the zones will operate under a simplified planning process, reduced taxation and lower regulations and are intended to stimulate or speed up the development of residential and commercial sites.

24 illustrative examples have been identified

The DLUHC provided 24 illustrative examples of where sites could be selected, including Blackpool airport, various sites in the Black Country and the River Hull corridor.

Guidance published yesterday explained criteria will assess bids based on ‘economic opportunity, the pace of delivery and wider strategic alignment.’ The guidance sets out a series of questions that authorities will need to follow to be selected for the project.

It said residential sites will: “Need to demonstrate housing impact through acceleration or additionality.” On top of this, commercial sites will need to highlight how the zone will “drive the development of at present undeveloped land and/or fulfilment of growth potential.”

Should reform plans be applied everywhere?

Authorities have until 14 October to submit an expression of interest. DLUHC said it would then work with authorities on their delivery plans and confirm sites represent value for money and deliver housing and growth objectives.

The investment zone plan has drawn criticism from some in the industry who argue planning reforms should be applied everywhere and not in selected regions. Others raised questions about additionality, highlighting many of the zones will already have the principle of development established.