Viewpoint - 16/11/2022

Is your employment land evidence base ready for examination?

Changes to the demand for employment land in recent years mean that evidence-based studies prepared more than a couple of years will now be out of date.

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There have been many changes to the demand for employment land in recent years, with several arising from Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. As evidenced by the quotes below, these issues are increasingly being scrutinised by Local Plan Inspectors through their Matters, Issues and Questions (MIQs).

  • Is this assessment still the most up-to-date? If not, what is the most up-to-date position and how should this be rectified in the Plan? (York Local Plan MIQs)
  • Is it likely that the departure of the UK from the EU and/or the Covid-19 pandemic could have an impact on jobs growth during the Plan period? If so, is it possible for the Plan to properly gauge those impacts with any degree of certainty? How should the Plan respond to these issues, if at all? (York Local Plan MIQs)
  • What bearing, if any, might changes in the forecasts of economic and employment growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic have on the Plan’s overall requirement for business, industrial and warehousing employment uses? (Ipswich Local Plan MIQs)
  • What specific LEP programmes or policy interventions can the Council point to which justifies the expected increase in employment in these sectors across the plan period? Can the Council point to any evidence which suggests that additional jobs have been created, over and above baseline forecasts, since the HEDNA was produced as a result of such policies or projects? (Hambleton Local Plan MIQs)
  • Does the labour demand model provide the most robust method of representing future needs and does the use of a ‘sensitivity’ model of a 30% reduction in the labour demand need for office space provide sufficient certainty around the parameters for office floor space and job needs post-pandemic? (Charnwood Local Plan MIQs)

There have been changes to how we work and the implementation of remote and/or flexible working practices, which has had implications for the amount of land needed for offices and how good those office spaces will be.

Changes to the way we shop and how we prioritise spending, has led to an increase in online sales and subsequently a rise in the demand for warehouse and logistics. Operators are now looking across regions in areas previously not considered.

There have been changes to the Planning Use Class Order.

This means that there is greater opportunity to drive economic growth by facilitating those sectors and businesses wanting to grow in your plan area. It is therefore critical that Local Plan policies and evidence are up to date to allow this to happen.

As such, evidence-based studies prepared more than a couple of years ago to help inform plan-making and manage development will now be out of date. They need to be reviewed and refreshed as a priority...

Don't worry, we can help! Our dedicated Economics & Planning Policy (EPP) team has considerable experience in preparing evidence studies that inform employment need, supply plans and decision making.

Drawing upon our leading market knowledge, datasets, and research (including our recent UK Investment Transactions (UKIT) report and UK freeports: free and easy article), and underpinned by wide-ranging and detailed stakeholder engagement, we can work in partnership with you to ensure that your economic vision, strategy, allocations and policies are robust, sound, and deliverable. 

Please get in touch with us if you are thinking of updating your evidence-based studies, and/or if you would like one of our experts to cast a “critical eye” on the robustness of your existing studies, plans and policies. We would be delighted to help!

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