HJA undertook an employment land review for South Somerset District Council to provide an updated evidence base for the district’s early review of its Local Plan. The Council required an updated evidence base on short term issues in the commercial property market, based primarily on consultation with local commercial property market stakeholders. The objectives of the research were to review the previously identified functional economic market area (FEMA) and consider the sub areas within, understand the commercial market in area over the last 10 years, and consider the implications for current market demand. The Council also required a review of long term economic forecasts for the district and their implications for future employment sites and premises requirements.
The methodology employed in these reports aligned with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Planning practice Guidance (PPG).
In a review of the commercial market, HJA undertook in depth consultations with local stakeholders and supplemented insights from these with data where appropriate. The analysis of the commercial market covered the recent performance of offices and industrial premises, rents and values, drivers of demand and barriers and constraints in employment land. This analysis was then used to identify implications for short term employment sites and premises demand.
The review of long term implications for employment sites and premises involved undertaking research to understand the socio economic baseline of South Somerset, an analysis of economic forecasts, and translating these forecasts into the estimated requirement for employment sites and premises over the Local Plan Period. HJA presented various scenarios to the econometric forecasts to examine the potential impact of varying degrees of growth on the demand for employment sites and premises. The report concluded with final estimations for future sites and premises requirements and set out the assumptions upon which these estimations were made.
In 2020, South Somerset and Somerset West District Councils were preparing Local Plans and required a more robust evidence base to inform this process. HJA were commissioned by the two district councils to undertake an Economic Development Needs Assessment (EDNA) to assess future employment sites and premises requirements in each local authority area. The work was part of a wider study which considered the future demographic and housing needs of the Council areas.
The EDNA also considered the impacts on employment land of a set of complex uncertainties, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, extension to Permitted Development Rights, changes to the Use Classes Order and the UK’s exit from the European Union.