The Enterprise Zone proposal for Alconbury is designed to encourage investment, attract innovative companies and create around 8,000 jobs.
The proposal, submitted by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to Government in June, put Alconbury in competition with other Local Enterprise Partnership proposals from across the country, and the 10 successful national winners, including Alconbury, were announced today.
Neville Reyner CBE DL, Chair of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded an Enterprise Zone at Alconbury Airfield by the Government. This is a significant first big win for our Local Enterprise Partnership that we believe will help to drive growth across the whole of our LEP area, and generate significant benefits for the country as a whole. We will now be working in close partnership with the landowners/developers Urban & Civic, with Huntingdonshire District Council and with Cambridgeshire County Council to make this proposal become a reality.”
The Enterprise Zone will not only bring benefits for Huntingdonshire, the uplift in Business Rates income will be retained within the Local Enterprise Partnership area for 25 years, rather than this income going to the Treasury as happens today. This means millions of pounds of additional income will be available to help fund projects across the whole of the Local Enterprise Partnership area, which the Board of the LEP will agree.
The Alconbury Enterprise Zone will cover 150 hectares of the whole 575 hectares site and will offer a vibrant mixture of employment uses. The Enterprise Zone will bring a number of benefits to the LEP area, including: 100 per cent business rate discount worth up to £275,000 over a five year period for every business that moves into the site; all business rates growth within the zone for a period of at least 25 years will be retained and shared by the local authorities in the LEP area to support their economic priorities; government and local authority help to develop the planning approaches in the zone; and government support to ensure superfast broadband is rolled out.
Going forward the Enterprise Zone is conditional upon the council putting in place a simplified approach to planning, known as a Local Development Order. A Local Development Order grants planning permission for the type of development specified in the order, and by doing so, removes the need for a specific planning application to be made by the developer. This process will allow the council to shape the area with consideration for what will genuinely benefit growth and attract private sector investment to the Enterprise Zone.
Executive Leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, Councillor Jason Ablewhite, said: “This is excellent news and the hard work from all parties involved has truly paid off. The Enterprise Zone will accelerate and enhance the delivery of a strategic growth location within the LEP area and maximise the available returns to the local community. Additionally it will provide the basis for further growth and interest within the region.”
Councillor Nick Clarke, who is Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council and a LEP Board Member, said: “This announcement is fantastic news for the whole of Cambridgeshire, not just the Huntingdonshire area, and is a hugely important early success for the LEP and its commitment to driving forward the area’s economy which has the wholehearted support of the County Council. It is also a clear indication that Cambridgeshire is open for business in every possible way.
“An Enterprise Zone will help bring jobs and prosperity to Cambridgeshire and funding to overcome some of the barriers to growth, and show the rest of the world that the county is a first class place to do business and that we can help lead UK PLC out of the current economic downturn.”
Huntingdonshire District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership have worked closely with developers Urban & Civic throughout the process and will continue to do so to bring high-quality jobs to the area and to lead its development into the future.
Robin Butler, Managing Director of Urban&Civic said: “The history of Enterprise Zones is that those able to deliver the most are in fundamentally strong economic locations, where designation provides that crucial lift. We are determined that the local, and now national, endorsement of Alconbury will bring forward capacity and jobs to support the existing entrepreneurial business, including superfast broadband across the entire LEP area. Just as importantly, the unequivocal message to international companies is that Alconbury stands as part of a unique regional dynamic willing and able to work towards your continued success.”