Business and communities to unite in driving growth

The first businesses to work hand in hand with their communities to trial proposed new neighbourhood planning powers to help boost local economies were announced by Planning Minister Greg Clark today.

Eight business groups are being given the opportunity to test out the approach being proposed in the Localism Bill to develop a business led Neighbourhood Plan for local business areas and town centres that benefits the whole community.

The Business Neighbourhood Frontrunners will work with local councils and community groups to prepare the planning and development framework to bring the right kind of development to their area. If these are later passed in a local referendum they will be adopted by the council.

The business groups will act as frontrunners spearheading neighbourhood plans that make it easier to change the designated use of buildings and expand facilities to meet changing needs and remove the need to apply to the council for every adaptation made to a building.

The ambitions of local people and their local firms and shops are often one and the same and much needed growth can be achieved quicker by using the expertise and resources of local business people to spearhead the right development swiftly. The plans will also help with the regeneration of local high streets - making them better places to visit and shop.

The announcement comes as the Localism Bill moves to Report Stage today and follows new amendments that were introduced to strengthen the promotion of growth following the Planning for Growth Budget.

Greg Clark said:

"Local businesses are vital to stimulating growth and benefit their communities way beyond just providing jobs. They can revive neglected neighbourhoods, support schools or make a significant contribution to community facilities.

"We need to involve local companies more explicitly in neighbourhood planning decisions for business areas if communities are to get the most out of them. Businesses have access to skills, resources and expertise that can give a real boost to getting the right kind of growth underway in many areas. Business Neighbourhood Frontrunners are about residents and businesses shaping their neighbourhood together.

"Ensuring all members of a community are involved in driving development in their neighbourhood is central to our planning reforms and local businesses are an equally important part of many communities."

The areas that have expressed an interest in being Business Neighbourhood Frontrunners, typically business and industrial parks and retail neighbourhoods, are: Aldershot Town Centre; Bankside, London; Central Milton Keynes; Liverpool Innovation Park; Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead; Trafford Park, Manchester; South Bank, London, New West End Company, London.