Concerns Calderdale could lose out on £100m when business enterprise zone opens

An enterprise zone is being planned for Clifton near Brighouse
An enterprise zone is being planned for Clifton near Brighouse

Concerns Calderdale might lose out over a £100 million pot of rate money over 25 years when an enterprise zone is developed at Clifton near Brighouse were voiced at full council.

Clifton is one of a number of enterprise zones in phase two of an overall £45 million roll-out by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority – the whole project will see ten enterprise zoned established across the region.

In phase two of the scheme, business that set up in the Enterprise Zones will get incentives including up to 100 per cent business rate discount of up to £275,000 over a five-year period, it has been reported.

Conservative Group Leader Coun Scott Benton (Brighouse) said he was concerned Calderdale could end up losing out on money which would end up staying with the combined authority in Leeds.

But Leader of the Council, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said costs to develop the schemes were being shared centrally too and did not fall solely on Calderdale.

Coun Benton said thanks to the Employment Land Study submitted to Government as part of the Local Plan – which will shape where people live and work in Calderdale over the next 15 years, including provision for around 9,500 new homes – around £4 million in business rate revenue, equating to £100 million over a quarter of a century would be due.

“But there is no guarantee we will see it because it is all going to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority,” he said.

If retained in Calderdale, that £4 million a year could fund a lot of things, he said.

He asked Coun Swift if costs, including officer time, lost opportunity to develop another scheme and reductions in business rate revenue, of developing the Clifton site had been included in the council’s budget.

Coun Swift said in broad terms the pooling of this rate was part of the deal negotiated when the proposal for enterprise zones was put to Government.

But investment and development costs were also being pooled, he said.

Large parts of the site had always been identified for business development in the previous Unitary Development Plan but proposals had not been brought forward – this was what the enterprise zone was going to unlock.

If Coun Benton put his question in writing he would be happy to provide an update of the business plan, he said.

Coun Benton said he would appreciate that, including more detail about when the public consultation into the enterprise zone would take place.

He believed there was a key issue that businesses moving out of other parts of Calderdale into the enterprise zone would mean lost business rate revenue directly to the council, leaving a hole in the budget.

Coun Swift replied that one of the reasons the enterprise zone was being developed was because businesses across Calderdale were saying there was not suitable modern accommodation available for them.

“If you have confidence in the Calderdale and national economy, the idea that vacated premises will stay empty is a negative one,” he said.