Economic zones from the age of Thatcher to makea comeback in UK cities

Ed Miliband may think of the Chancellor as "Norman Lamont with an iPod", but Mr Osborne's announcement yesterday of new enterprise zones had more in common with the interventionist Lord Heseltine than the fiscally conservative former Tory chancellor.

Mr Osborne's embracing of enterprise zones marks the revival of a policy begun during another time of austerity – the dark days of 1981 when the Thatcher government faced riots in Britain's cities over its hardline economic policies. Mr Heseltine – humble Michael back then – launched the zones as part of his urban regeneration work as environment secretary and they were part of Conservative policies into the 1990s.

The idea is simple. Take a run-down area and offer tax incentives for companies to move there while relaxing planning laws so new buildings can be built quickly. Public funds for clearing derelict land and improving transport are also part of the mix.

Yesterday the Chancellor promised businesses 100 per cent discounts on rates, superfast broadband and the ability to use more generous capital allowances in zones with a strong focus on manufacturing.

In addition, local authorities hosting the zones will keep all business rate growth for at least 25 years to spend on development in return for relaxed planning.

London's Canary Wharf is the best-known and most successful enterprise zone. Despite its ups and downs, the project has turned desolate docklands into a thriving centre for financial services, shopping and leisure.

But other zones outside the South East have been seen as failuresbecause they targeted areas in long-term decline and created jobs that sucked in employment from other places until incentives ran out.

Richard Grass, head of public sector at Colliers International, the commercial real estate broker, said: "Confirmation of the reintroduction ofenterprise zones is a welcome sign that the coalition is focusing on growth as well as reducing public expenditure, although £100m will be spread fairly thin across 21 different zones over four years.

"To have any lasting impact these incentives need to be focused on areas with high growth potential and which can deliver near term employment rather than just shiny new buildings on derelict land."

In reviving Lord Heseltine's flagship policy, Mr Osborne is donning some one-nation clothes while doling out cuts that recall the harsher aspects of the Thatcher era.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower