15:28 September 20, 2022
Norfolk has been designated as the site for one of 12 ‘low tax investment zones’ being set up across the country as part of the government’s flagship policy to boost economic growth.
The strategy – which was a central element of South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss’ campaign to become prime minister – would cut taxes and ease regulations in select places in England.
Land use laws would also be relaxed in the chosen areas, to encourage more houses to be built on land adjacent to the favored industries.
Ministers hope that the measures will stimulate investment in certain areas and accelerate economic growth.
If Norfolk is selected for a zone, it would likely cover just one area, rather than the entire county.
It is clear that Whitehall officials are monitoring an area encompassing part of Breckland – parts of which are in Mrs Truss’ constituency – and South Norfolk, along the so-called ‘A11 corridor’.
Chris Starkie, chief executive of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, welcomed the initiative but suggested other locations might be more appropriate.
“Over the past few years we’ve had a number of business zones in Norfolk and Suffolk that have proven very successful in attracting new business, boosting investment and creating jobs, so the investment zone principle sounds appealing.
“Obviously we need to understand the details, and we want to make sure Norfolk is well positioned to take advantage of such initiatives.
“What we wouldn’t want to see are investment zones in other parts of the country and Norfolk failing.
“I think it would be reasonable to look at higher backlog areas – Great Yarmouth, Thetford, King’s Lynn, where there is also growth potential.
“But we also need to make sure it doesn’t harm the rural areas of the province.”
John Fuller, conservative leader of the South Norfolk Council, also welcomed the idea.
He said: “Extending the globally important corridor from Oxford to Cambridge towards Norwich, with its leadership in life sciences, the environment and engineering, could get rocket boosters if Norfolk gets one of these zones.
“Our country is at a turning point and we will all have to think of new ways of doing things to continue to earn our place in the world. If Norfolk is part of the plan, we should welcome it.”
Further details on the zones are expected to be given by Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng in an emergency budget on Friday.