In January of this year CPRE Oxfordshire Branch wrote to all of their districts asking them to reject the Housing growth deal or the County. This might seem perverse as it would have given the large amounts of funding but asked them to build 100,000 houses for the County – exactly what the SHMA said, with no additional houses for London overspill or the ‘transformational growth’ anticipated in the NIC Ox-MK-Cam corridor report. They accused the plan as planning for commuters for London and not local need.
At one level however they were right, the ‘local’ component of need in Oxfordshire is closer to 68,000 on the MHLG national OAN measure, the rest comes from employment growth, and that employment growth implies people moving from somewhere to take up the jobs.
This issue is bound to get far more attention with the 2016 household forecasts, based on the 2016 based SNPPs, likely to show a major fall in population projections in Oxford Cambridge and most of the south east. ironically this is due to in large part lack of housebuilding leading to a low demographic baseline in order to project from. Hence the national method wont end at all arguments at EIPs over OAN, it will simply intensify arguments about employment growth projections, especially in areas such as the ox-MK-Cam corridor and the Northern Powerhouse with transformational growth projections.
However you need to ask the question where will the workers come from? Take the corridor and assume it meets its employment growth projections. The extra workers can only come from one of five sources:
- increased labour force participation
- The North
- The rest of the UK
- International In migration
The first would have already been accounted for and will have limited potential in a tight labour market.
People will undoubtedly move from the rest of the UK, but if these areas are to grow as well then they wont simply need to fill the jobs vacated plus the new jobs. The jobs vacated wont generate a need for an extra unit as one will be vacated but they will create a need for an additional in migrant that must come from somewhere.
London is the power pump here with its huge overspill requirements. If London is to grow then it will need in migrants from somewhere. If all English regions are to grown and regional disparities reduce then there is only one source left, increased international in migration. This of course will then increase the demographic baseline in all areas and lead to an increasing demand in the future for overspill from London given its supply constraints.
As i have suggested before we have a model from Ireland how to deal with this, consistent regional employment forecasts based on an econometric model and infrastructure backing up cities with growth potential to avoid primal city dominence. Lets do that here and prevent EiPs being held up a year with arguments shifting to employment projections.