New planning move will help businesses
FIRMS could soon be able to gain automatic planning consent for non-controversial planning applications, under a new Swindon Council scheme to boost the local economy.
The Cabinet plans to introduce LDOs (Local Development Orders) at suitable business parks, industrial estates and other major employment locations across the borough.
This will enable firms to bypass the normal planning procedure in a bid to help businesses expand and relocate to Swindon.
The council says the formal planning procedure, including the public consultation, is useful with controversial applications, such as the Honda wind turbines.
But it can be unnecessarily slow and expensive, and act as a barrier, for non-controversial applications.
Such proposals include the extension and improvement of existing business premises and the setup of new offices, research and development facilities, and a range of other priority uses. Residential or retail developments would still require a planning application.
Coun Dale Heenan , cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, said: “Thousands of pounds and hundreds of staff hours are spent by the town’s business and industrial parks dealing with the planning system for minor changes to their sites which are simply not contentious.
“We have an excellent planning team and there will be safeguards to prevent a free-for-all.
“But I am determined we help businesses by cutting the national planning red tape and bureaucracy to save money, time and effort for everyone involved, including the council.
“This action is a local initiative and is not a magic bullet, but it should make a difference to areas like Cheney Manor industrial Estate and for companies like Honda.
“By allowing planning permission to be automatically granted for minor changes or for the setup of new offices, research and development facilities and a range of other priority uses, we can help business save money, be more flexible and ultimately it should help create jobs in Swindon.
“The council has identified a list of candidate sites for LDOs, including Cheney Manor Industrial estate, Delta Business Park, Dorcan Industrial Estate, BMW, the Honda Works, Nationwide and Intel , and Groundwell West. Consultations will be held with businesses, land owners and others before any of the LDOs are passed.
The council expects the financial impact of the scheme would be negligible as the reduction in planning application fees would be mitigated by applicants needing to pay for a certificate of lawfulness instead.
A Honda spokesman said: “Historically, Honda has had a significant number of non contentious planning applications that have been approved; but have taken time to process through the planning system.
“For this type of application, a process that still maintains the control of development within defined parameters; but improves the speed of implementation has got to be good for business.”