ERM concludes that if housing were provided above the demographic need level there is a ‘strong likelihood’ that these would be taken by retired people or out-commuters44, but that claim appears to be based on a pessimistic view that the new jobs created will be low paid and/or part time. The same view is evident in paragraph 5.2.3 of the CS, which suggests that any additional housing would lead to further unbalancing of the population. In contrast Figure 1 of the Chelmer submission45 provides a striking illustration of how, if one increases the number of dwellings to allow for significant growth in the resident labour force, that it is the younger working age groups, aged 25-44, that show the most marked increases. In contrast the over-65 age group remains broadly static in all 3 scenarios. This supports a finding that the ERM/Council assumption is ill-founded as, given its strong economy, there is no reason to find that the younger working age groups, aged 25-44, would commute out of the District.
…On ERM’s own evidence46 there appears to be a huge disparity between the projected growth in the working age population in the District, 2,188, and recognised job growth forecasts of need which vary between 9,452 and 15,684.
For these reasons the demographic-led projection is inadequate to meet future changes in the District’s labour market: in short, it would appear that job growth within the District, even without the JLR allocation, is likely to exceed the labour supply. In the circumstances the housing figure is not aligned to the employment growth forecast and there are grounds for concern that the Council appears to be planning for a situation in which a key part of its labour force cannot live in the District.
Reading between the lines of the report it seems that the inspector is leaning towards a more than one new settlement option, including the Long Marsden site. With this being able to be delivered more quickly it is likely that the Gaydon/Lighthorne option could be scaled down to more reasonable levels.