HJA was commissioned to undertake the assessment of employment needs to inform the development of an employment Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the four local authorities of East Hertfordshire, Epping Forest District, Harlow and Uttlesford. The Councils were working together to address cross border planning matters that impact upon their respective Local Plans. In preparation of the Local Plans, the local authorities required a MoU in respect of strategic employment issues as well as an assessment of employment needs to underpin such an MoU.
The work would establish broad scenarios for future economic growth and the potential distribution of employment and associated employment land requirements across the functional economic market area (FEMA) that covers the four constituent districts. The work would also build on earlier work prepared by HJA for the Cooperation for Sustainable Development board.
HJA adopted a two phase approach to the work. Phase 1 involved developing robust future economic and employment growth scenarios and Phase 2 involved an assessment of the employment land requirements associated with the preferred scenarios and contributed to the preparation of the MoU.
Phase 1 of the work began with a review of the latest East of England Forecasting Model (EEFM) and identifying a number of substantive changes in the results within the West Essex and East Herts FEMA when compared to the previous EEFM. These changes included the spatial distribution of forecast employment growth and the sectoral distribution of growth. Following the identification of these changes, HJA constructed a moderated economic baseline which reapportioned employment growth across the FEMA in line with the previous EEFM.
Once a baseline forecast had been established, we undertook a review of evidence to ascertain whether alternative scenarios should be considered. A review of the latest Strategic Housing Market Assessment for West Essex and East Herts found a predicted workforce growth beyond that required to meet the demands of the moderated baseline, indicating the appropriateness of developing alternative scenarios to consider higher employment growth scenarios. Developing the alternative scenario involved the identification and quantifying key drivers of additional job growth and such as major developments to Stansted Airport and the relocation of Public Health England to Harlow. Once quantified, the jobs growth was analysed to assess whether there was a good fit with the level of growth required to balance the labour market.
Following the establishment of this preferred scenario, HJA undertook an assessment of the future B Use Class employment sites and premises requirements. This included a consideration of the changes required to accommodate the forecast growth in the economy under the preferred scenario, as well as provision to ensure the ongoing strength of the existing economy. This assessment allowed for the estimation of total office and industrial floorspace requirements, replacement requirements as well as estimations for choice and flexibility to give a final figure for employment land in the FEMA.
The assessment was finalised with a consideration of the core objectives of the study and set out how HJA’s conclusions met these objectives.
Two of the four Councils have now successfully adopted their new Local Plans based on the evidence HJA provided as part of our work, with one other Plan under examination, and another is in the preparation process.