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Picturesque Forest of Bowland ‘under threat’ from investment zones and commercial development

The Conservative leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council has expressed caution about the government’s new investment zones, over planning controls and the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Forest of Bowland AONB was designated in 1964. It straddles two counties, Lancashire and North Yorkshire, and includes Pendle Hill in the south. It spans six district councils of Ribble Valley, Pendle, Lancaster, Wyre and Preston, and Craven in North Yorkshire. Its communities have a combined population of around 16,000 people.

Its main purpose is to protect natural beauty but it has to consider rural industries, local economies, communities and social needs. Investment zones were announced by the government this September to create new locations offering low tax arrangements and minimal planning procedures. They are intended to accelerate business growth and the construction of new homes and commercial buildings.

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The zones are similar to the government’s new freeports network, where targeted tax relief and other support is offered to businesses. Both initiatives are key parts of the government’s Levelling-Up agenda


Beacon Fell in the Forest of Bowland

But both have raised concerns including environmental protection, local planning control and business displacement fears.

This month, various councils, counties and…

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