[UPDATE: For the subsequent government response to this consultation, please view this post.]
The government has published the following consultation, which runs for 10 weeks from 10/02/2020 until 20/04/2020 (update: this consultation was extended by 12 weeks until 13/07/2020):
- February 2020: Freeports Consultation - Boosting Trade, Jobs and Investment Across the UK (pdf) (link).
- The webpage (link) for the above consultation includes the following information:
- "The government is working to boost economic activity across the UK, ensuring that towns, cities and regions across the country can begin to benefit from the opportunities of leaving the EU. As part of this work, the government aims to create up to 10 freeports in locations across the UK.".
- "The government has drawn on evidence from successful freeports around the world to develop a UK freeport model. The proposed model includes tariff flexibility, customs facilitations and tax measures. We are also considering planning reforms, additional targeted funding for infrastructure improvements and measures to incentivise innovation.".
- Chapter 5 ("Planning") within the above consultation document includes the following information:
- "Permitted development rights are a national grant of planning permission. The existing Part 8 Class B rights used by ports within Schedule 2 of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, as amended, are limited to development for the purposes of shipping or in connection with the movement of passengers, goods, livestock or traffic. However, airport operators use their permitted development rights, as set out in Schedule 2, Part 8 Class F, for the development of ‘operational buildings’ for purposes connected with the provision of services and facilities. [...] We therefore invite views on amending the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, as amended, to align permitted development rights for sea port operators with airport operators by allowing the use of buildings on ports for purposes connected with the operation of the port. This will enable them to carry out a broader range of operational activities in line with airports. Rail undertakings already have permitted development rights to erect buildings on their operational land. We are also interested to hear views on whether there are any further permitted development rights specifically for Freeports that would support their operation. These would be subject to statutory environmental considerations.".
- "Subject to statutory environmental considerations, we also want to further consider the use of zonal planning. There is a range of tools available to simplify the planning process through this route, including to support Freeports. [...] Building on their use in EZs [Enterprise Zones], and more widely, we are interested to hear views on the availability and take-up of LDOs [Local Development Orders], and how they are being used to support development. We are also interested to further understand what factors would encourage local planning authorities to establish LDOs to support Freeports in particular. The Government expects authorities to support Freeports through simplified planning, including the use of LDOs.".
- "As part of Maritime 2050, the Government’s long-term strategy for the maritime sector, we have been clear that a presumption of support for new harbour development (as set out in the NPSP [National Policy Statement for Ports]) should continue to apply. However, we have also committed to take into account potential changes to, for instance, the use of sea port land, and to look for potential further means to support the sector across planning, environment and connectivity issues. The Government will conduct a review of the Ports Master Plans Guidance so as to better understand this challenge. Additionally, the Government will consider reviewing the NPSP [National Policy Statement for Ports], and consideration may be given to whether further support for the sector is needed when the NPSP is next reviewed, in line with Maritime 2050. Any proposed amendments to the NPSP that materially affect the policy would be subject to statutory requirements for consultation, publicity and Parliamentary scrutiny under the Planning Act 2008.".
- "The Government has committed to publish a Planning White Paper, which will set out how more land can be brought forward for development and options for additional planning freedoms which could accelerate the end-to-end planning process. The White Paper will be published later this year. We are interested to hear views and evidence (for example based on national and international best practice) on any other options for the increased use of existing planning freedoms or further reform to simplify or speed up the planning process and support the functioning of Freeports, and their ability to boost trade and investment.".