West Oxfordshire Local Plan Housing Consultation

Economic Forecasts

4.36 Of direct relevance to the number of homes needed is the number of new jobs that are likely to be created. Balancing the provision of new housing and jobs can help to avoid unsustainable patterns of commuting.

4.37 The SHMA has been informed by a separate report which considers future economic prospects within Oxfordshire in the period 2011 - 2031. The report considers three scenarios:

  • A baseline projection using a standard forecasting model (based on 15-year past trends);
  • An alternative population projection (similar to the baseline projection but using a different population input to take account of migration data anomalies); and
  • A planned economic growth projection to take account of new jobs arising from initiatives such as City Deal and the Science Vale Enterprise Zone.

4.38 The baseline projection suggests that an additional 5,200 jobs will be created in West Oxfordshire between 2011 and 2031. The alternative population projection suggests a potential increase of 6,100 jobs and the planned economic growth projection, a potential increase of 7,900 jobs.

4.39 As part of the SHMA process, the consultants have considered how many homes would be needed to meet the labour demand associated with these new jobs. The results are set out in Table 4.5.

Table 4.5 - West Oxfordshire Indicative Dwelling Requirement (Economic Projections) (Source: SHMA 2014) 

Scenario

Dwelling requirement (per annum)

Total dwellings 2011 - 2031

Scenario 1 - Baseline economic forecast

Not modelled

Not modelled

Scenario 2 - Alternative population projection

590

11,800

Scenario 3 - Planned economic growth projection

661

13,220

 

4.40 It can be seen that under the two economic scenarios modelled, the dwelling requirement for West Oxfordshire ranges from 590 - 661 homes per annum. There are however several key issues to note.

4.41 Predicting future job numbers is not an exact science and forecasts can regularly change. For example, an earlier forecast from October 2012 by Cambridge Econometrics (one of the authors of the report used to inform the SHMA) suggested that the number of new jobs likely to be created in West Oxfordshire between 2011 and 2031 was 2,770, considerably lower than any of the scenarios outlined above.

4.42 Furthermore, the type of model used in the SHMA to translate jobs into homes (referred to as a jobs-led model or JLM) has a number of limitations. The Woodhead report explores these in detail and concludes that the SHMA projections are reliant on a methodology that is not particularly appropriate for an area such as West Oxfordshire and in exaggerating the effects of population ageing on the local labour market the projections tend to over-estimate the housing requirement.

4.43 The potential job increases modelled in the SHMA are also based on population projections to 2031, which for the reasons explained in paragraphs above have been affected by previously high levels of housing delivery in West Oxfordshire during the period 2005 - 2010. As such the Council's argument about the 'inflationary' effects of house building from 2005 - 2010, are considered to apply to the economic projections as well the demographic projections. This is recognised in the SHMA at paragraph 9.62 which states that:

'Strong past housing provision is likely to have influenced both the demographic projections and the economic forecasts, to some degree, as these take account of population trends in projecting employment growth in sectors where the population base influences demand'.

4.44 It is also important to note that the number of jobs identified under the 'planned economic growth' projection in particular is very ambitious and whilst not unprecedented, there is no guarantee that these will actually be delivered.

4.45 Even if these new jobs are successfully created, the number of homes provided for must be realistic and deliverable. Across Oxfordshire as a whole, the level of housing needed to meet the planned economic growth projection (85,600 homes) represents a 40% uplift on the demographic analysis (57,740 homes) and an uplift of over 70% compared to previous annual delivery rates of new housing across Oxfordshire.

4.46 In summary, the Council accepts that some uplift in overall housing numbers is necessary to meet future employment needs but not to the extent identified within the SHMA for the reasons set out above.