Monday, 6 January 2014

Houses needed to deliver jobs and economic growth

A study by Barton Willmore, the integrated planning and design consultancy with an office in Kent, has concluded that a housing shortfall will hold back economic growth in the South East by as much as £60 billion between now and 2031.

This is due to house building targets for Essex, Kent and East Sussex being 6,000 units below those required by the public-private South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) for the area to hit its key jobs milestone for the 20-year period which began in 2011.

Barton Willmore assessed the SELEP target of creating between 250,000 and 300,000 jobs between 2011 and 2031 against the housing figures in the local plans of all the authorities in the three counties.

The study’s conclusion was that to achieve SELEP’s jobs target would require 20,000 to 22,000 new homes to be built each year between 2011 and 2031 to accommodate the resulting labour force growth.

However, the study found that the local authorities were planning for a combined total of only 14,200 homes per year – an annual shortfall of about 6,000. Barton Willmore has concluded that the current plans will ‘fail to supply (housing for) the labour force necessary to support the South East LEP's ambition’.

One possible outcome is that without the necessary housing, businesses in the three counties will under perform due to labour supply shortfalls. The study calculates that a shortfall of 145,500 jobs between 2011 and 2031 would lose economic output worth £60 billion over that 20-year period. For Kent, this places a possible £24 billion of GVA at risk of being lost.

SELEP has also submitted its first full draft of its Strategic Economic Plan: Unlocking the Potential: Going for Growth, as well as a comprehensive list of transport schemes for Local Growth Funding. The Kent draft submission to the SELEP Going for Growth has been produced by the Kent & Medway Economic Partnership and is available here.

The challenge for SELEP, like all the other LEPs, is significant and will require high levels of cooperation and collaboration in order to realise its plan for growth. SELEP will need to match its lofty ambitions for jobs and economic growth against those of its local authority partners’ housing ambitions, while at the same time being balanced against the requirements of the NPPF and associated planning guidance, as well as household growth projections of Communities & Local Government Department and the Office of National Statistics.

The summary report by Barton Willmore can be viewed here. Kentcentric welcomes your views on its conclusions and the role of SELEP.

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