The LDF plan to locate 2000 houses next to BT is (by implication from its alignment to the BT planning application) predicated on the creation of 2000 new jobs at the Adastral Park Site (we assume this means net additional jobs), and that some of the people who come to work there will live in the new houses in carbon friendly harmony.
NANT very much welcomes this attempt to create new jobs, but believes the 2000 jobs figure is completely unrealistic, and disputes the view that building houses adjacent to the business park is a logical or environmentally sound conclusion. We also argue that the vast majority of people who would live on the site would work elsewhere, and that the prospects for jobs growth to meet their needs elsewhere in the district are highly questionable.
JOBS PROSPECTS AT ADASTRAL PARK
- Nine years ago the SCDC Local Plan First Alteration said they should plan for an extra 3000-3500 jobs at the BT site by about 2010. The fact is that there are fewer permanent jobs on site than 10 years ago. BT made redundant many local highly qualified staff, apparently to save money by outsourcing to off shore companies.
- The goal of creating 2000 new jobs in the next 10 years is challenging to say the least, in a world market that is much less favourable than it was 10 years ago with, for example, even greater competition from the far east.
- It is well known that many of the people who now work at the site are overseas staff on temporary employment work permits. Other companies on site are systems suppliers to BT with a small numbers of staff on site (generally with their head offices in the Thames Valley area).
- BT is desperate to promote the notion that the business park is already attracting new businesses. This press event about Huawei is a good example of BT spin. Huawei’s local office has actually been based in Barrack Square just outside BT for at least 2 years – all that has happened is that they have moved to offices inside Adastral Park. Huawei are an equipment supplier to BT and most of their 70 or so staff here are Chinese nationals who rent accommodation in Ipswich.
- Industries tend to locate close to good transport links. Within a 70 mile radius of London this location is about as far as it is possible to get from motorways and international airports.
- BT’s residential planning application emphasises what their contribution to the local economy is, but they do not commit to remain here in the long term, even if they got planning permission for the business and/or housing developments.
- If these jobs prospects are real why has is there no publicly available study into how and when these jobs will be created? Furthermore why is there no breakdown of the number of people currently employed on the site? A 50 page study was published in May 2010 into the Economic Impact of the Port and Logistics Sectors and their future jobs growth, but no equivalent study has been published relating the Adastral Business Park proposition.
- To press ahead with building the largest residential development SCDC has ever seen, on a highly controversial greenfield site in an environmentally sensitive area, without basic evidence of jobs, housing needs etc is not the right way to manage the long term future of the District as a whole.
JOB PROSPECTS IN THE DISTRICT AS A WHOLE
- SCDC have said to EERA “There is a strong link between employment/economic growth and the need for new housing. Analysis of the current proposed jobs to be created to meet the RSS target to 2021 indicate that this will not be met and that extrapolating this forward to 2031 suggests this may not meet the 2021 target.(Source:- Para 3 of East of England plan to 2031, Consultation on Scenarios for Housing Growth, September 2009, response on behalf of Suffolk Coastal District Council).
- So SCDC believes that in 20 years the number of new jobs in the District as a whole may not even meet the 10 year job forecast on which the RSS housing targets are based.
- If this is the case, now that the RSS has been scrapped, why is SCDC not publicly committing to completely review its housing targets and establish the real demand for housing for local needs? When SCDC talks about (in their 10 June statement) “meeting the proven need for more homes for our residents”, there is no proven need, and SCDC’s statement above demonstrates this. The RSS targets do not stand up to scrutiny.
JOBS AND SUSTAINABILITY
- Travel to work and proximity to jobs. If the jobs do not materialise at Adastral Park then the travel work radius for residents there will large. SCDC’s consultants said in an earlier LDF consultation round that this site was the furthest from other employment centres of the sites originally considered.
- Dispersed housing. SCDC admit that an attraction of the BT application is that the infrastructure funding (S106) can be negotiated with a single developer. This argument has two fundamental weaknesses. If, as we believe, there is no justification for this number of houses, then there is no need for the infrastructure. Also, by centralising housing in a single site, it prevents houses being built where they are needed, close to local jobs, and especially the proven need for housing in the rural areas.
- We believe that SCDC should:-
- Revise downwards its housing forecasts to reflect realistic jobs prospects
- Should work on the realistic assumption that what jobs are created will be spread around the district
- Should therefore adopt a strategy of planning dispersed housing closer to local jobs (ironically this would align with the option put forward in the first round of LDF public consultation, which won most support, but was rejected by the Council).
- Should not be enticed by the carrot of a single S106 pot of money when the proposed single large development would not meet the long term needs of the District as a whole.
Other items on Employment follow: