Innovative approach to business park leads to planning excellence award recognition

RTPI Planning Excellence Award

Winners will be revealed on 29 April in a virtual awards ceremony.

Braintree District Council, together with development and planning specialists Strutt & Parker, has been shortlisted for a national award in the planning approach it adopted for Horizon 120 – the new Business & Innovation Park being built off of the A131 in Great Notley.

The planning framework for the business park is in the running to win the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Award for Planning Excellence 2021 in the ‘Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy’ category.

Horizon 120 Business & Innovation Park is set to become a major new employment park which aims to set the standard for a modern business environment.

In April 2020, the Council approved the planning framework (known as a Local Development Order) for the Horizon 120 Business & Innovation Park. This type of planning framework gives clarity and certainty to developers and streamlines the planning process making it easier for businesses to invest and relocate from elsewhere.

The Horizon 120 Business & Innovation Park is one of nine which made the shortlist into the ‘Excellence in Planning for a Successful Economy’ category.

The shortlist recognises the innovation in using a Local Development Order to encourage new businesses into the district and to create thousands of jobs for its residents.

The Horizon 120 Business & Innovation Park will offer flexible business accommodation, state-of-the-art energy efficient buildings, best-in-class fibre-optic connectivity and electric vehicle charging points. A 'central hub' area to the north will become home to a new enterprise centre where small businesses will be able to innovate, develop and grow. Proposals also include the creation of a green environment where roads and paths are tree-lined with green buffers and wildlife corridors.

Cllr Gabrielle Spray, Cabinet Member for Planning at Braintree District Council, said: “We’re really keen to make sure that development in our district is well designed and results in the creation of high quality places. Horizon 120 is an exciting project for us and our district and it needed a more flexible approach to planning. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to advocate for quality design in our area. I am proud of the work we have done with this Local Development Order which means the park will be built to a very high design standard while also being flexible enough to encourage innovative businesses to move onto the site. I look forward to the project going from strength to strength.”

James Firth, Head of National Planning at Strutt & Parker, said: “Braintree District Council has the ambition to do things differently and we are delighted that the Strutt & Parker National Planning team was able to support the Council in delivering new jobs and employment opportunities at Horizon 120. Local Development Orders are powerful planning tools, with early investors encouraged by the certainty of a predictable and quicker decision. Braintree’s vision, supported by their investment and planning teams, has delivered what we feel is a superb result.”

The National Awards for Planning Excellence celebrate projects and people who have helped create exceptional places and improved the lives of those who live and work there; highlighting how planning and planners work to create a safe, healthy and sustainable future. The winners will be revealed on the 29 April at a virtual awards ceremony. 

Read more about all nine shortlisted projects here .

Businesses interested in being part of Horizon 120 should visit 

Published: 23rd February 2021