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M42 Corridor growth plan boosted by decision to ease planning restrictions

M42 Corridor growth plan boosted by decision to ease planning restrictions

🕔12.Sep 2013

Proposals for industrial and commercial development in the M42 Corridor to the east of Birmingham have been given a boost following a Government decision to ease planning restrictions on land next to motorways and major roads.

Roads Minister Stephen Hammond wants to make it easier for developers and local authorities to take forward major development projects by “easing red tape” in a move that he said would boost economic growth and create jobs.

The changes should also remove some of the barriers currently placed in the way of developing motorway service stations, shops and hotels.

The Government’s move to make life easier for developers is likely to provoke fury from environmental campaigners. Past attempts to build on land around the M42, particularly applications for service stations and business parks, have been bitterly resisted at lengthy planning inquiries.

The decision could be significant for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (GBSLEP) which is promoting the M42 Corridor as an Economic Gateway with a pledge to create 100,000 new jobs generating £14 billion for the local economy.

The corridor takes in land between junctions four and six of the M42 including the NEC site and Birmingham Airport. The plan is largely dependent on demand for growth off the back of planned expansion of Birmingham Airport and the arrival of an adjoining HS2 high speed rail station.

Key changes announced by Mr Hammond include:

  • Easing restrictions on new access roads and junctions on motorways. This will assist local authorities and developers to deliver strategic growth by unlocking access to large sites near motorways and major A-roads.
  • Removing the need for developers to pay for mitigation measures unless the impacts of their proposals are severe; and reducing the scale of any work that may be required as a consequence.
  • A commitment to support the delivery of developments that have been approved in a Local Plan. This will give certainty to local authorities and developers that their proposals can be realised.
  • Simplifying the mandatory requirements that must be provided at every service area and roadside facility. Sites will still be required to play their role in the essential safety and comfort of motorists – such as the availability of fuel, toilets, drinks and two hours free parking – but other issues will now to be decided by local planning and market forces.
  • Devolving decisions on the minimum spacing for service areas to the planning system, thus creating the potential for new sites which will encourage greater competition and customer choice.

Mr Hammond said: “I believe that making planning decisions easier and quicker will lead to local economic growth and the creation of jobs, leading to greater prosperity.

“This policy delivers in cutting unnecessary red tape and making the planning process simpler and more straightforward for everybody involved.”

The new Transport Policy – The Strategic road Network and the Delivery of Sustainable Development – follows a public consultation undertaken in February and March this year and places greater emphasis on the Highways Agency’s role to promote economic growth and enable development.

The importance of the M42 Corridor is summed up in  GBSLEP’s ‘Going for Growth’ document: “The M42 Economic Gateway will provide the framework and context within with Airport  expansion and route development will take place, and for embedding HS2 within local strategy and delivery.

“This critical as the evidence from other high speed rail investment clearly demonstrates that whilst HSR stations are catalysts for wider benefits, they do not create them from nothing. There needs to be clear integration of national with local proposals, focussed investment in wider infrastructure, accessibility to local public transport and road networks and clear leadership in delivery planning implementation.”

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