Calderdale in their Local Plan have decided that an Employment Zone will be built within the Neighbourhood Planning area. The idea behind an enterprise zones is simple: cut taxes and strip back planning rules in small areas to attract new businesses and create new jobs. The question for the forum, is this the best utilization of the land? The evidence in the development of successful Enterprise Zones in England shows that investment in regeneration and infrastructure is critical.
The preference in the village (93% of residents stated this in a survey) is that the Employment Zone should remain as greenbelt. Their second preference (7%) would be housing. However, the Neighbourhood Forum recognise that should the Enterprise Zone receive planning consent that it has a responsibility to assist in ensuring that the development takes place. To this end there is a requirement to develop policies and procedures for the successful development of this land.
Most of the employment provision within the Local Plan area is concentrated in Brighouse. The enterprise Zone represents 40% of industrial development in this plan. The forum takes the view to be successful this development must be focused on areas of high growth potential and should be tailored to the individual needs of Calderdale. If this is the case simpler planning and discounted business rates ought to drive growth. There are therefore some questions about the business use designated for this Enterprise Zone.
Cushman & Wakefield was appointed by West Yorkshire Combined Authority to undertake a property market appraisal to establish the industrial market demand position for Clifton Business Park.
The West Yorkshire industrial market is characterised generally by a falling supply and pent up occupier demand as a result of a general lack of development activity in recent years. The market has been driven by logistics with the continued growth in demand for distribution locations, with growth in demand for a range of unit sizes. Key recent lettings in the area relate to Amazon and John Lewis at the Leeds Enterprise Zone.
The market is dominated by the Motorway corridors of the M62 and M1, although the majority of occupier demand to some extent is to the east of Bradford, to the west the limited availability of serviced sites means it is untested. The key industrial locations within the Yorkshire region are the Leeds Enterprise Zone, Wakefield and Castleford/Normanton in what is known as the ‘golden triangle’, located within close proximity to the M62, A1 and M1. The conclusion reached by this report is that the economic viability of the proposed site is untested. Moreover, in their report they point out that within a three-mile radius 1.5 million square feet of warehousing remains vacant.
The forum therefore believes it is important that the economic viability of this site is a priority if it is to be successful. There are concerns that there hasn’t been sufficient time spent on establishing a real need for the development of this site and there isn’t adequate investment in the development of infrastructure to make the proposed Enterprise Zone viable.
The Forum has carried out using independent consultants a study of traffic, which has a direct bearing upon the need to allocate adequate investment to ensure that this development is successful. This study can be found in the appendix. The study updates data collected by WSP the Local Authorities Consultants.
The development of an Enterprise Zone represents a considerable investment for West Yorkshire and Calderdale. To be successful and to ensure that this site is not left with vacant buildings it is important that the strategy being pursued by the Yorkshire combined Authority maximises the market potential in the region. Professor Peter Tyler Cambridge University has investigated the factors that create a successful Enterprise Zone. The research undertaken as part of his national evaluation showed that the relative performance of a zone was also influenced by the approach adopted by the zones authority to select, assemble and develop the zone. The key factors he identifies as important here were:
A conclusion that can be drawn from this work is, Zones with low existing market opportunity and high need (i.e. high remediation cost, poor infrastructure etc.) were less likely to benefit and take more time to reap the benefits of zone support.
The Clifton Enterprise Zone is a relatively small site 25.5 Hectares. This will limit then the number of businesses that can be allocated to the site and restrict their opportunities for growth. The current proposal is flexible allowing up to 29 units to be built depending upon demand. The site will have a mixture of business types ranging from light engineering, offices space and warehousing.
The evidence shows that Enterprise Zones can create employment and the following provides data on what could be expected from the Clifton development. This data is based upon the Development of Enterprise Zones up to 2014. The average number of people employed per hectare (HA) was 37.2 but was higher in the high opportunity, low need zones at 43.3. It was lower in the relatively lower economic opportunity zones at 24.3 per HA. These estimates are based on the gross area of the zone and since some of the total land available is used for landscaping, access and supporting infrastructure the estimates per HA are around 20% higher if this element is removed. Thus, an average zone generated around 45 jobs per HA.
This would suggest using the average that the Clifton Enterprise Zone will create 1150 jobs. If this was the case, then how traffic is managed and the potential issues around noise and air pollution have to be factored into the development. A concern is that jobs are not displaced but created for the people of Calderdale. The focus should be to minimise the degree to which zones simply displace local economic activity at the local level (‘boundary-hopping’). Moving offices from the Armytage Estate across the road, which do not create new roles is counterproductive.
Professor Tyler maintains; It is important in the early life of a zone to ensure that some sites have been designated that do not suffer from extensive dereliction and thus need substantial up-front expenditure on land reclamation and infrastructure before any development can start. Development should be encouraged in the most accessible sites closer to economic opportunity first. Once some early momentum has been achieved on relatively non-constrained site it will then be possible to realise the potential of other more encumbered sites.
This would suggest that the development of the Enterprise Zone in Clifton would need to be made where it is easily accessible from the roads. There are two possible access points, one from Coal Pit Lane and the other Clifton Common.
These access points present some issues. Coal Pit Lane is a 1:10 country lane. This lane currently prohibits the travel of HGV’s. The lane if it were to be used will require investment. Clifton Common is also problematic, firstly because of road safety issues and secondly traffic congestion.
The third possible access is via the proposed new road with an access point adjacent to the Holiday Inn. This will require some investment to make the access viable.
Access to the site and the management of traffic will be key factors in the development of this site. As can be seen from the artists impression above the Enterprise Zone butts onto the village. In effect people’s gardens will border onto the site. The management of air quality and noise will be an issue for the residents of the village.
Coal Pit lane is a 1:10 hill therefore access to the site via this road will be restricted. The site itself is steep and will represent a challenge for the developers. Where and how the development starts will be consideration to ensure that the developers ensure an acceptable duty of care for the residents of the village.