Government approval for Accelerated Development Zones to help Birmingham City Council kick-start mothballed redevelopment schemes could be announced within weeks, it has been claimed.
Council leader Mike Whitby said talks he held with Planning Minister Bob Neill during this year’s Tory party conference in the city look likely to speed up the approval process for ADZs, which allow councils to borrow money against income streams from new businesses moving into the area.
In Birmingham’s case, it has been estimated that ADZs and Tax Incremental Funding could raise £600 million.
The money would be instrumental in rescuing stalled regeneration schemes such as Snow Hill and Arena Central.
It would also provide a huge boost for the city’s construction industry, which the council leader described as “being on its backside”.
Coun Whitby (Con Harborne) said: “Bob Neill listened to our concerns about how long it would take to introduce ADZs and he has told me that the Government is planning to promote these essential tools as early as late November when the Decentralisation & Localism Bill is published.”
He added that he was very encouraged by Mr Neill’s attitude who understood that Birmingham needed to press on quickly with the 20-year Big City Plan, which was launched last month.
Coun Whitby said: “I told the Minister that we had £600 million worth of projects ready to go, but we need the ADZ powers to bring them to fruition.
“Bob Neill talks our language. He agreed that funding problems and planning delays were the two biggest issues holding us back and has pledged to do his utmost to help us resolve these critical factors.
“His words mean that we can get moving and have the cranes and diggers on standby for the day these powers are implemented.”
Mr Neill has said he wants to give cities like Birmingham much more control over their own destiny in planning and development.
The Localism Bill is expected to give local authorities greater power in areas such as governance, finance and planning.
Coun Whitby said: “The construction industry in Birmingham is on its backside and it is essential that we in local government move as quickly as we can to bring forward projects that will inject both money and jobs into the local economy.”