HJA were instructed by Harlow Council to develop a strategy for allocated employment sites within the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town (HGGT). Harlow Council had established a proposal for the HGGT, providing a minimum of 23,000 new homes as well a new hub for employment. The Council needed to understand the potential employment role of the HGGT, including the most appropriate way to meet employment land requirements. There was a need to understand the degree of jobs growth required to achieve the ambitions of the Garden Town. Specifically, the opportunities for sustainable job generation across the HGGT, the employment sectors likely to create jobs growth, the appropriate quantum and type of business premises required and the employment land requirement to accommodate the estimated level of economic growth.
Before analysis of data was undertaken, HJA reviewed the set of existing policies and strategy documents which set out the underlying principles for HGGT. The policy review helped to ensure the outcome of the strategy aligned with the principles and ambitions set out by partners of HGGT.
The next stage of work involved developing overall headline growth scenarios and broad parameters for growth, based upon existing research, strategy and policy, official statistics and consultations with key stakeholders. This section of the work established the geographical area for baseline analysis, the time periods for analysis, uncertainties such as the future of work and the economic starting position for HGGT. We triangulated the available data to form headline quantitative growth scenarios, using various approaches led by demography, workers per dwelling, jobs per dwelling and growth to date.
Then we considered the potential sectoral profile of the headline growth scenarios. We took into account the recently published Assessment of Employment Needs in West Essex and East Hertfordshire, making further adjustments to job predictions based on the planned community infrastructure set out in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan. Based on these uplifts to jobs growth, HJA provided analysis on the highest sectors of growth over the established period.
Following on from estimations and analysis of employment growth, HJA translated these predictions into the requirement for employment sites and premises. The methodology used in this process was aligned with that deployed in the Assessment of Employment Needs which allowed for comparison on a like for like bases and consideration of any differences. Employment floorspace requirements were broken down into use classes and after calculating net additional requirements and replacement requirements, figures were provided for total land requirement for office and industrial uses.
The report was finalised with a high level employment sites strategy, which set out the identified supply of employment sites, a comparison of supply and demand for sites and the potential supply of additional allocations, whilst considering principles important to the HGGT such as reducing the need to travel by car, active travel initiatives and public transport routes. The strategy identified allocations which should be progressed, examined potential issues with sites but also their relative strengths. A series of wider issues which had emerged from the research was included in the strategy for the HGGT leaders to consider in the future. These covered areas such as economic leadership, skills, and capitalising on Public Health England.