C4B Chairman's Update              December 2015
Paul Barrett
Dear [salutation],     As the year draws to a close, our December newsletter brings you an update on the City Council's Local Plan, as well as the festive activities currently helping to boost business in Canterbury and the coastal towns this Christmas. We also report on the district's successful first 'UNconference' for start-ups and newly established businesses, and on the government's new Apprenticeship Levy scheme. May I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year – look out for our next newsletter in February 2016.
Local Plan update
The independent planning inspector who examined the City Council's draft local plan confirmed in the summer that he was generally happy with the work and that all relevant legal procedures had been complied with. However, he asked the council to increase the housing numbers required for the area from 780 to 800 dwellings per year, to meet the five year housing land supply (up to 2031). The council was asked to provide more information on the viability and infrastructure linked to the main housing allocations and to review sites that were not allocated to see if they could be brought forward for early delivery.

Two sites were reviewed: one on land adjacent to Cockering Farm, in Thannington; one on land south of the John Wilson estate in Chestfield. The council also looked at the deletion of sites unlikely to come forward, and amendments to the site capacities and boundaries of some of the existing allocations.

Public consultation on the proposed amendments to the Local Plan opened in November and will close on 22 January 2016. For more information about the proposals and to submit comments, visit www.canterbury.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/local-plan/

The next phase of the enquiry is likely to begin in March 2016, and it should be completed by the summer.

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City centre car parking
The draft Local Plan identified a number of car parking sites in urban areas in the district, mostly in Canterbury, for housing development. There was some discussion about this at the last C4B board meeting and, although development is not imminent, it is likely to have an impact on business parking in the city when it happens. While the housing allocation cannot be changed as it is part of the plan, the amount of car parking space that will be built on has yet to be determined. To clarify this, and the availability of business car parking in the future, C4B board requested a meeting with Canterbury City Council and members of the business community in the New Year.  However, since the board meeting, the city council has published plans to transform transport and parking in the district and has asked C4B to take part in the consultation. Please visit  www.canterbury.gov.uk/anpr

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Cracking Christmas campaign
Hard on the heels of the successful Black Friday event at the end of November, the Canterbury Connected Business Improvement District (BID) team launched a packed programme of Christmas activities and events to draw shoppers into the city centre. Local press advertising, an eight-page supplement distributed to 95,000 homes across Kent, and a smaller Christmas City Guide posted to 10,000 homes in East Kent helped spread the word to residents and visitors. The city has more lights than ever before this year (Canterbury Connected is spending £330,000 over five years) and for the first time, these extend to the Westgate Towers, into Castle Street and the Buttermarket. The centre was packed for the switch-on in November, attended by around four thousand people, while the Christmas Parade also attracted large crowds.

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Medieval Festival 2016
Canterbury Connected's plans for 2016 include a Medieval Festival on 9 July. Based on the very successful Magna Carta trail held this year, the festival will include a parade, pageant, tableaux with re-enactors, and a special Medieval Trail around the city.

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Successful 'UNconference' in Canterbury
In partnership with RIFT Accounting and Business Bunker Radio, Startmybiz and Growmybiz held their first 'UNconference' in November at the Cathedral Lodge during Global Entrepreneurship Week. Eschewing a conventional conference agenda, the conference organisers invited people to engage with the event via Twitter and Facebook. Speakers included entrepreneur Warren Knight, who shared top tips on how to build a digital strategy, and employment lawyer Chloe Harrold from law firm Doyle Clayton. Delegates themselves were also invited to make a 30-minute pitch on the day. The formula proved successful, with more than 50 businesses and start-ups attending the event. Feedback is being used to determine the Startmybiz and Growmybiz agendas and workshops for the next six months. This will include supporting businesses in Herne Bay as part of a more coherent business support development programme for the coastal towns.

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The Apprenticeship Levy - what is it?
The Apprenticeship Levy was announced by the government during its recent Autumn Statement and Spending Review. The levy will enable more funding to be invested in apprenticeships, whilst encouraging employers to engage with the scheme and determine their own training requirements by placing the purchasing power for apprenticeships in their hands.

The Apprenticeship Levy on larger employers, announced in the summer budget, will be introduced in April 2017. It will be set at a rate of 0.5% of an employer's pay bill. Each employer will receive an allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment. This means that the levy will only be paid on any pay bill in excess of £3 million and that less than 2% of UK employers will pay it.

Employers who pay the levy and are committed to apprenticeship training will be able to get more out than they pay into the levy, through a top up to their digital accounts. Employers will choose and pay for the apprenticeship training they want through a Digital Apprenticeship Service. Information on the funding arrangements under the levy will be available in spring 2016.

For more information, visit Canterbury College's website:
www.canterburycollege.ac.uk/navs/apprenticeships-navigation/apprenticeships or www.apprenticeships.gov.uk

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