Employment-led development is key to creating job opportunities and one UK local authority is making sure planning does not get in the way of economic growth.

North Somerset Council is one of a small number of Councils in the country to approve a Local Development Order (LDO) to make it easier for businesses in its Enterprise Area to expand without planning permission. This will make it easier for businesses to create the perfect base at the new enterprise area off the M5.

Junction 21 Enterprise Area (J21EA) at Weston-super-Mare aims to bring 10,000 jobs to the area by 2026. However the local authority is aware that in order to achieve this, planning needs to be simplified in a bid to bring big business to the town and its enterprise area.

Richard Kent, Head of Development Management at North Somerset Council, said: “The J21EA Local Development Order applies to a selection of employment sites within Junction 21 Enterprise Area (J21EA).

“When it comes into force on June 1 this year, it will remove the need to apply for planning permission for minor alterations or additions to business premises, and for some changes of use across certain locations in J21EA.

“Although the LDO removes the need to apply for planning permission for the developments specified, there are exclusions and conditions that continue to safeguard things such as highway safety and the local environment.”

Richard added: “We believe that employment-led development is key to ensuring that there is a balance between homes and local job opportunities.”

To help drive the creation of jobs, the council also offers a range of services to help deliver business proposals, including expansions and relocations, which have an impact on the local economy.

These include other simplified planning processes, which includes free pre-application advice, maximising the use of delegated powers to shorten decision making timescales and using Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs) to assist with project management and resources.

A Local Economic Development Protocol also exists to support the timely delivery of those development proposals which will have significant local economic benefits (e.g. job creation) and help to boost the local economy.

Richard added: “We also offer end-to-end professional support with the council’s Development Management Service providing advice from initial feasibility through to commencement, completion of development and beyond. One of the major benefits of the Local Economic Development Protocol is that businesses/developers are allocated a single point of contact within the authority (usually within the Economic Development Service), who will work closely with them throughout the process and beyond completion.”

The legal team at North Somerset Council has also been praised for best practice by Planning magazine, which ranked them in the top ten nationally.

Richard said: “We are delighted with this recognition which places NSC as one of the top ten local legal teams in the country for dealing with planning matters.

“As the other authorities in the top ten are primarily London-based or big cities, this seems a particularly impressive achievement.”