HJA were instructed by the Heart of the South West (HotSW) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to undertake an employment land study for the area. The core purpose was to provide a better understanding of the current supply of – and demand for – employment land across the area, the challenges faced in bringing this land forward for development, and potential solutions to address these challenges.
Objectives of the study were to understand:
- The current level of demand for employment space (land and premises) across the HotSW LEP;
- The allocation of employment land in Local Plans, including what size/percentage is currently available for development and what size/percentage is stalled. This should also include insight into whether land is publicly or privately owned and whether the land is appropriate to meet current and future employment needs;
- Which areas of the LEP are facing the greatest challenge(s);
- What are the reasons for sites not coming forward to the market; and
- Tools (including planning, fiscal, infrastructure) and interventions for unlocking employment sites.
The overall requirement was to understand the point in time demand for and supply of employment land in the HotSW.
The analysis of the demand for employment land was reliant on the data provided by each of the 13 local authorities in the LEP. To gain a more rounded understanding of the demand situation in HotSW, a number of consultations were also conducted with commercial property agents. We also utilised the qualitative responses provided by local authorities to form the primary basis of the demand analysis. Through this, we were able to present an assessment of current demand and expectations for future demand, and the performance of each local authority area in the LEP.
The supply analysis was reliant on data collected and provided to HJA by local authorities within the HotSW. We provided the authorities with a questionnaire requesting aggregate data, as well as a template spreadsheet to capture site by site data. We then carried out analysis of the data, identifying gaps in the supply of employment land as well as the locations with a strong supply.
The employment land study also involved an analysis and discussion in respect of the current constraints to bringing forward allocated employment sites across the HotSW, or in other words, whether market failure was occurring. Using this information, HJA produced a geographical breakdown of the scale of constraint and the size of the site affected. We also collated the set of responses to the provided questionnaire to report on the public sector interventions that would be helpful in tackling these constraints.
The study was finalised with a set of conclusions and recommendations in respect of employment land for the HotSW local authorities. For each objective set out by the LEP, conclusions provided a clear and succinct response. These covered areas including the current level of demand for employment space across the HotSW, the allocation of employment land in Local Plans, the areas facing the greatest challenges, the reasons the sites are not coming forward to the market and the tools and interventions for unlocking employment sites.