Thurrock is at the leading edge of using Britain’s planning processes to encourage investment in the borough.
The council and the development corporation have been working with Dubai Ports World regarding their £1½ billion London Gateway project to find innovative ways of persuading potential investors to come to the borough.
Planning for large projects can be a slow, laborious and bureaucratic process, but the council and the corporation have come up with a scheme that would reduce time and costs and should slice through the red tape, saving themselves and potential investors thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Both organisations are now starting the process of seeking authorisation for the promotion of a Local Development Order for the London Gateway logistics complex. The scheme, granted outline planning permission in 2007, is now starting to get off the ground.
Usually each building or warehouse, shop or office would require an individual planning application which must be assessed, one-by-one. In addition, any small changes to design would have to follow the same process.
The granting of a Local Development Order removes the delays in this process across the site and the first steps will be discussed at a special meeting of the full council on Wednesday 21 December.
Cllr John Kent, Leader of the Council, said: “This will be the largest ‘local’ Order of its kind. But this does not mean ‘carte blanche’ for the developers.
“There are nearly a hundred conditions on the original outline permission and millions of pounds in Section 106 agreements. These conditions and agreements will be protected in the Order.
Will McKee, Chairman of the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation, said: “This has to go through a rigorous process. The council and development corporation are being asked to agree to the first steps and if it is finally agreed to move forward there will have to be a public consultation, and then the Secretary of State must be notified of the intention to adopt the Order and may intervene.”
Cllr Kent added: “This does not affect the way this development impacts on the local community — all of those issues will be dealt with through planning contributions and other conditions. What it does do is make Thurrock and London Gateway an even more attractive proposition for investors.
“This is a chance for Thurrock to show it is leading the way in cutting through bureaucracy while still ensuring that the needs of local people are foremost. Less red tape, more speed.”
Local Government Minister, Bob Neill MP, said: “I’m delighted to see Thurrock leading the way on the Local Development Order process. It’s this type of forward thinking that will gain the confidence of investors and encourage inward investment in the Thames Gateway.”