Michael Young has over the years intensively studied Uttlesford’s jobs and population growth, first in the context of Stansted Airport and latterly for the Local Plan and its implication for housing. He has for some while argued that the figure for housing need in Uttlesford is skewed unnecessarily high due to anomalies in historic data.
No Need For a Third New Settlement in Uttlesford? – By Michael Young
Last Thursday (17th May 2018) the Office for National Statistics (ONS) issued the up-to-date population forecasts for local authorities. These could have massive significance for the Uttlesford Local Plan.
It predicts that in 2033, the year in which the Plan finishes, the population of Uttlesford will be 4,500 lower than previously forecast (down from 106,000 to 101,500). This figure will be converted into the number of households needed, which in turn forms the starting point for assessing the number of new homes required.
It looks as if the number of homes needed will drop by about 1500-2000. This could be a real game-changer as it is roughly the same as the number planned for each new settlement over the plan period. So, reducing the figure will remove the need for at least one of the settlements.
And since UDC is already using out-of-date figures and proposing to build more than is already necessary then it will have an even bigger effect.
The government had given an indication of the changes back in October but now we have the detail. The changes will affect all government calculations including the new proposed method for calculating housing need. It seems very odd that UDC chose to release the latest version of the Local Plan on the same day that the government was changing the figures.
- The Local Plan covers the period 2011-33. Over that timespan the proposed developments in North Uttlesford and Little Easton are, co-incidentally, both proposed to start in the same year and both to deliver the same number of properties, namely each with a start in 2022/23 and each with a total of 1,925 built by 2033.The remaining properties (Little Easton are looking at a total of 10,000 and North Uttlesford 5,000) would be built after the Plan period finishes in 2033 and so are not relevant for this Plan.
- The West of Braintree (Stebbing) proposal is a joint effort with Braintree Council looking at a total of 10,000 homes of which 3,500 would be in Uttlesford. The Local Plan is suggesting a start date of 2025/26 with 970 being built in Uttlesford by 2033.
- n the next few months the government will convert the population changes into households. There is no simple formula for doing this as it depends upon which age groups have changed the most (changes in child population don’t affect the number of households very much but changes in the elderly figures have a significant effect). From what I can see the lowering of the Uttlesford population figure is slightly geared to younger age groups but not significantly. So, my estimate of 1500-2000 fewer households stands.
- The population forecast from the ONS are the very basis of all calculations of housing need and will affect every calculation, including the government’s new proposed method which has not yet been finalised and come into effect.