PLANNING decisions that currently take several months will be made in less than 28 days for businesses at a key employment site in Dorset.

An order approved by Purbeck District Council will fast-track applications for companies at Dorset Innovation Park Enterprise Zone near Wool.

Cllr Cherry Brooks, responsible for economy and infrastructure at Purbeck District Council and a member of Dorset County Council, said: “Co-ordinated appropriate development at the site can now be enabled through a fast planning process, benefiting existing businesses and those planning to move to the site. At the same time, we are able to safeguard the special qualities of this sensitive area.

“This will be a unique selling point for the site and, consequently, make it easier for businesses to create quality jobs and boost the local economy.”

Jim Stewart, chair of Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The local development order (LDO) is the key that will unlock rapid investment in the site by target sector companies, reducing the planning process from several months to less than 28 days.

“The LDO will benefit those wanting to expand their existing businesses on site, relocate to take advantage of business rate relief, or respond quickly to newly awarded contracts. This will all lead to new highly skilled employment opportunities and an increase in employment productivity for Dorset.”

Dorset Innovation Park is earmarked as an advanced engineering and manufacturing cluster of excellence, building on strengths in marine, defence and energy technology.

Investment in the site by Purbeck and Dorset councils, as Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, gives businesses benefits such as reduced business rates and full fibre broadband connectivity.

The local development order was prepared by consultant Stride Treglown last year, using feedback from residents, businesses and other organisations during public consultations.