THE first new building at Alconbury Enterprise Campus has been granted planning consent just five weeks after planners at Huntingdonshire District Council received the application.

The 15,000 sq ft 'incubator unit', which will house small new companies at the enterprise zone, will also become the home of Urban&Civic, developers of the whole 1,400-acre Alconbury Weald site, with its planned 8,000 jobs, 5,000 homes, three new schools and acres of new woodland.

Firms locating to the enterprise zone will also from business rate reductions for up to five years and superfast broadband.

It took planners just 36 days - rather than the more common three months for an application of this type - to approve the plans under streamlined processes available in the zone. There were no objections.

Urban&Civic's project director, Tim Leathes, said: "The Incubator sets the bar for the design standards, inspiring space and sustainability features we will bring across the development.

"Designed by internationally renowned architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, the design focus has been flexibility, because we want to accommodate the type of start-up business with say five or six people, carrying out research and development, prototyping or hi-tech design.

"Set close to the leafy entrance of the campus, and using natural materials, the Incubator will also provide space for meetings and networking to support the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of the local economy.

"It's great that HDC were able to turn around the application in just over five weeks. Now we can get to work in making the plans come to life."

Mark Reeve, acting chairman of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP), added: "The enterprise zone's central location at Alconbury Weald between Cambridge and Peterborough, on the spine of the country with road and rail links in all directions, makes it perfectly placed to support the economic development of not just Huntingdon, but the whole of the LEP area."

Councillor Jason Ablewhite, HDC's executive leader, said: "I am really pleased to see that the planning team has been able to deal with this application so speedily and efficiently.

"We are fully committed to delivering high quality new job opportunities within the enterprise zone, and it's essential that we can readily support schemes such as this. This is the first building to get approval in any enterprise zone [of those that were approved by the Treasury in August 2011], not just in Huntingdonshire, but across the country."

New tenants coming to the site will benefit from the zone's business rate discount worth up to £275,000 over five years, superfast broadband and the streamlined planning process. They will be able to take advantage of flexible leases, business advice and support services.

The building has been designed with a range of sustainable features to reflect the low carbon aspirations for the whole development and is due for completion by December 2013.