Draft Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report

Ended on the 15th January 2010
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(2) 11 Economy and employment

11.1 Introduction

11.1.1 Local economies are open to global, national and regional influences and changes in the wider economy. This presents numerous threats and opportunities. Recognition of local strengths and weaknesses, and through public and private sector partnership, are important in ensuring local preparedness to adapt to change, address threats and respond to opportunities174 . A healthy and prosperous economy is key a healthy society (e.g. town vibrancy, good environments to live and work) and with careful planning it should also enhance environmental well-being.

11.1.2 Local economies are characterised by a range of interlinked factors, including housing and transport which within this report are discussed in Chapters 13 and 16. This section focuses on employment, skills and education as key factors that influence the local economy of Harlow.

11.2 What’s the policy context?

11.2.1 PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Development (2005)175 stresses the importance of a strong, stable and productive economy and requires planning authorities to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is provided to support new and existing economic development and housing. Accessibility to jobs and services are also addressed as a means of achieving social cohesion and inclusion. The document sets out how authorities can contribute to delivering sustainable economic development including recognising that economic development can deliver environmental and social benefits; recognising the wider benefits of economic development alongside any adverse local impacts; ensuring suitable locations are available for economic sectors; providing infrastructure and services to support new and existing economic development and housing; taking account of the relevant economic strategies in DPDs; and, identifying opportunities for future investment to deliver economic objectives. PPG4: Industrial, commercial development and small firms (1992)176 aims to encourage continued economic development that is compatible with the Government’s environmental objectives.

11.2.2 Draft PPS4: Planning for Prosperous Economies177 consultation closed at the end of July 2009 with the government expecting to publish the final PPS and associated guidance before the end of 2009. The draft PPS4 seeks to combine all national planning policy on economic development in urban and rural areas and town centres into one consolidated and streamlined PPS. The new PPS4 seeks to provide planning certainty for businesses and investors by creating a ‘positive planning’ environment which recognises the importance of different drivers of economic development, from town centres through to rural enterprise. It also retains the sequential test of town centres first. In its final form this PPS will replace a number of existing guidance documents including PPG4: Industrial, Commercial Development and Small Firms, PPG5: Simplified Planning Zones and PPS6: Planning for Town Centres.

11.2.3 Harlow is part of the London-Stansted-Cambridge-Peterborough Growth Area, one of the four designated growth areas in the Government’s Sustainable Communities Plan178. To address the housing pressures in London and the South East, the Government established housing targets for these Growth Areas to be achieved by 2021. However, achieving sustainable growth requires job creation which in turn demands the provision of sufficient employment infrastructure such as land, facilities and transport links.

11.2.4 The Regional Economic Strategy for the East of England 2008-2031 sets out an overall vision for the region in 2031, which is based on achieving high levels of international competitiveness, developing a global reputation for innovation and business growth, and attracting and retaining the best talent. The RES identifies the main economic challenges for the East of England as raising rates of productivity growth, increasing entrepreneurship and the need to better manage the impacts of economic success in terms of economic participation and environmental quality. Key to this strategy is the identification of larger urban areas, regional cities and their surrounding rural areas as the drivers of physical growth and economic success. The RES sets headline targets in a number of areas including:

  • growth in GVA per employee over 2008-2031 of 2.1% p.a., and in GVA per capita of 2.3% p.a.;

  • employment rate of 80% for the working population and of 70% for the 16-74 population by 2031;

  • NVQ Level 2 or above held by 90% of working-age population by 2020, NVQ 3 or above held by 68%, and NVQ Level 4 or above held by 40%; and

  • Raising the ratio of lower-quartile to average incomes to 60% by 2031.

11.2.5 Within the Stansted/Harlow sub-region the RES aims to establish the area as an important regional centre for growth by maximising the opportunities provided by its proximity to London, Stansted Airport and Cambridge. To realise the opportunities major new transport investments are need to improve access to employment sites, the M11 and Stansted Airport and regional east to west links.

11.2.6 Policy SS3 of the East of England Plan179 identified Harlow as a Key Centre for Development and Change (KCDC). KCDCs are intended to reflect the “polycentric nature of the East of England" and its arrangement of small and medium sized towns and cities surrounded by more rural areas which look to those towns for employment and higher level services. Harlow is therefore recognised as a main driver of economic growth in the region. Policy E1: Job Growth sets an indicative target for net growth in jobs in 2001-2021 of 56,000 for the Rest of Essex (no specific target is apportioned to Harlow). Policy E3: Strategic Employment Sites identifies Harlow as a regionally strategic location to provide sites in order to assist regeneration and ensure growth in key sectors and clusters. Policy E7: The Region’s Airports states that employment development not directly related to the Airport’s operation should be located at Harlow and other nearby towns. Policy SS5: Priority Areas for Regeneration of the Plan identifies Harlow as a town with significant areas of deprivation, stating that LDDs and relevant non-statutory plans should set out policies to tackle the problems of economic, social and environmental deprivation.

11.2.7 Since designation as a New Town in 1947, Harlow – now a former new town – has experienced a gradual urban decay accompanied by a decline in economic fortunes and a rise in social exclusion and deprivation180. For this reason, regeneration has been a priority of Harlow Council. The Harlow Regeneration Strategy181 was developed to ensure that renewal continues to move ahead in Harlow before full implementation the East of England Plan and to allow the District to take full advantage of the Plan. The Strategy sets out three overlapping phases of work within a ‘timeline for change’ for the period until 2021:

  1. Establishing regeneration building blocks

  2. Investing in potential

  3. Delivering the benefits of growth.

11.2.8 The town is identified in Regional Planning Guidance as a Priority Area for Economic Regeneration. A draft Harlow Regeneration Strategy (2009-2021)182 is being developed to deliver the physical, social and environmental regeneration of Harlow. The revised Strategy will build upon the key themes and evidence base identified in the 2007 Strategy to deliver a localised targeted approach in addition to addressing issues of town wide significance. It is considered important that regeneration is in keeping with the town’s original design, neighbourhoods, green spaces and community spirit.

11.2.9 Harlow’s LSP has developed the District’s Community Strategy which must be taken into account when preparing the LDF. The Strategy is known as the Harlow 2020 Vision183 , which aims for Harlow to be:

"A clean, safe, sustainable and healthy town with good educational prospects for its citizens, a variety of homes and jobs to meet local needs, and a range of sporting, leisure and cultural opportunities contributing to a higher quality of life."

11.2.10 To deliver the Vision a number of priorities have been set out to address key issues relevant to the Town. Those relevant to the economy are:

  • Economic Prosperity

  • Education, Learning and Skills.

11.3 What are the key objectives and other decision-making criteria that we need to consider?

11.3.1 Many of the objectives set out in the Integrated Regional Sustainability Framework for the East of England – see Table 2 – are relevant in considering future impacts on Harlow’s town centre. Particularly relevant objectives include:

  • Promote sustainable growth within environmental limits

  • Reduce poverty and inequality and promote social inclusion

  • Promote employment, learning, skills and innovation.

11.3.2 Harlow also has a number of key priorities for 2009/10 to 2012/13 as outlined in the Council’s Sustainability Strategy and approved in January 2009 by the Environment and Community Committee185. Relevant priorities include:

  • Regenerating the Town

  • Improving Harlow for business.

11.4 What’s the situation now? (including any existing problems)

11.4.1 It should be noted that most of the documents referred to in building up the existing picture for Harlow do not take into account the latest economic recession.

11.4.2 Harlow has experience gradual urban decay and as a consequence has suffered a decline in economic fortunes and a rise in social exclusion and deprivation. These factors combine to challenge the economic prosperity and level of qualified employees within the district186. However, Harlow is geographically very well located to take advantage of economic opportunities. The District has access to the M11 motorway network, rail and Stansted airport (12 miles away); and is situated in close proximity to London and within commuting distance of the Cambridge hi-tech sub-region. It is also located within the London-Stansted-Cambridge-Peterborough growth corridor. For these reasons it has attracted some inward investment.

11.4.3 Harlow’s economy was primarily based around manufacturing, but the District has “some major sectoral strengths and ‘flagship’ employers" (including GlaxoSmithKline, Arrow Electronics, Nortel Networks and C-Mac) and the economy has diversified with industrial specialisms as part of a growing knowledge economy to include187:

  • Research & development

  • Pharmaceuticals

  • Manufacture of electronic equipment.

11.4.4 Other growth sectors include retail, construction, professional business services and hotels and restaurants. Utilities, chemical manufacturing and manufacturing have been in decline. The number of VAT Registered Businesses (businesses with sales of over £56K, excluding many in self-employment) per 1,000 economically active for Harlow (38.4) is considerably lower than for the Harlow Sub-Region (78.6), the Eastern Region (65.3) and England and Wales (62.7). The District’s economy has in the past been vulnerable owing to a small number of very large employers and thus a narrow business base188.

11.4.5 The most recent key figures for economic deprivation (2007) are outlined in Table 13, and demonstrate that Harlow fairs comparatively well to England, but not as well to the East of England despite a slightly higher employment rate. Harlow, however, has a higher proportion of job seekers and persons claiming a key benefit189. In addition, a higher employment rate in Harlow may be due to there being substantially fewer Harlow residents in full time education190.

Table 13: Key figures (%) for economic deprivation (2007)191

Harlow East of England England

Economy Activity Rate

87.9%

81%

78.6%

Employment Rate

80.7%

77.4%

74.4%

Unemployment Rate

4.9%

4.5%

5.4%

All people of working age claiming a key benefit

15%

11%

14%

Job seekers

3%

2%

2%

Incapacity Benefits

6

5

7

11.4.6 Harlow is a medium sized town and a comparatively small local authority with 80,000 residents and 44,000 employees, and as such the surrounding catchment area is very important to the District’s economy. Harlow’s catchment area may be defined as the ‘Harlow Sub Region’ – Broxbourne, East Hertfordshire, Epping Forest and Uttlesford authorities – and this area includes over 400,000 people and 195,000 jobs. The Harlow Travel to Work Area (TTWA) covers Harlow, Uttlesford, most of East Herts and part of Epping Forest. It adjoins the London TTWA, which has a “strong pull effect". Periods of outmigration, as Harlow has experienced between 1981-2002 (losing 10,900 net residents), usually result in the loss of “younger and more successful residents". Moreover, during the same time period the Harlow Sub Region gained almost 15,000 people (40% via net in-migration). The Regeneration Strategy evidence base study states that192:

In Harlow young people who have left to attend university rarely return to live and work in the town; while at least some successful households have almost certainly sought improved residential accommodation in the surrounding area."

11.4.7 Employment levels have fluctuated over the years. Levels fell to 41,000 in 1981 and remained largely unchanged until the mid 1990’s, after which there has been a period of steady growth to 44,400 in 2002 (12% growth 1991-2002). The stability of growth since is questionable, and there have been a significant number of business closures in the 2000’s. In contrast, the Harlow Sub Region has experienced steady and substantial growth (22% growth 1991-2002), partly attributed to growth at Stansted airport. Between 1981 and 2005 this was reflected in Harlow’s share of the population falling from 18%-16% and employment from 22.5%-18.5%, suggesting increased levels of out-commuting. In addition to this, Harlow is attracting an increasing number of commuters; of the 44,000 jobs in Harlow, 52% are filled by Harlow residents and 48% by non-residents (risen from 37% in 1991). In-commuting to Harlow exceeds out-commuting by just 500, representing 1.2% of Harlow’s employment compared to just over 12% in benchmark Southern New Towns. Moreover, in-commuters tend to occupy the high income jobs within Harlow193.

11.4.8 The percentage of Harlow’s residents of working age that were economically active in 2001 was greater in Harlow (71.7%) than in the Harlow Sub-Region (71.4%), Eastern England (69.3%) and England and Wales (66.5%). However, Harlow notably has a lower percentage of full-time students and, compared to the Sub-Region, a higher percentage of the population long-term sick (see Table 14 below)194.

Table 14: Labour market participation, education and long term sick (16-74 year olds) 2001

% Economically Active % Full Time Student % Long Term Sick

Harlow

71.7

4.3

5.9

Harlow Sub Region

71.4

5.2

4.0

Hertfordshire and Essex

70.2

5.5

5.1

Eastern England

69.3

5.8

5.6

England and Wales

66.5

7.0

8.3

Southern New Towns

71.2

5.9

6.0

11.4.9 The IMD ranks Harlow District amongst all local authorities as 193/354 for income scale and for Employment as 222/354 in 2007195. The IMD for employment and income are mapped for Harlow in Figures 13 and 14. This reflects the overall picture of low district-wide employment deprivation, but areas of worse deprivation for income. The least deprived areas tend to be on the outskirts of the District, particularly in the east and southwest fringes. Noticeable areas of deprivation for income occur in the wards of Mark Hall, Netteswell, Toddbrook and Staple Tye.

Figure 13: IMD for employment Harlow

Figure 13

Figure 14: IMD for income in Harlow

Figure 14

11.4.10 Evidence of education, skills and training deprivation exists in Harlow, with areas within the 20% least deprived nationally (see Figure 15). The number of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs graded A* to C in Harlow (60.2%) favours poorly when compared to the region (64.7%) and England (65.6%). In addition, the average Level 3 Qualifications Curriculum Authority (QCA) point score per student aged 16-18 in Harlow (661.8) falls notably below the average for the region (739.8) and nationally (721.3)196. Notable recent improvements include: Harlow’s Children Centre network opened in 2008 and provides access to childcare, parent support and early special needs assessment; Anglia Ruskin secured £10m investment in new high education facilities; funding secured for Science Alive for a new facility with the Sports and Leisure facility; county-recognised model established for multi-agency partnership work to support children and young people with complex needs; Harlow Extended Schools programme around community schools; new learning opportunities in society, health and development and IT in the Harlow 14-19 Area Planning Group, and; further development of Harlow Skills for Life community strategy197.

Figure 15: IMD for education, skills and training deprivation in Harlow

Figure 15

11.4.11 Staple Tye is the most deprived ward in Harlow (see Table 9 in chapter 10 Community). The ward has one of the worst records for its inhabitants having no qualifications or unknown qualifications for national key stage levels 1-4. The unemployment rate (91% in employment) for this ward has consistently been higher than the average unemployment rate in Harlow as a whole; and of those employed in the area, one third have no qualifications or unknown levels of qualification and only 10% have higher level qualifications. The largest occupation type for the ward’s residents is in elementary occupations (17%) and this figure is notably higher than for Harlow (14.2%) and Great Britain (11.8%)198.

11.4.12 Church Langley is one of the newest communities in Harlow and the least deprived ward in Harlow (see Table 9 in chapter 10 Community). The ward consistently falls within the top bracket for qualifications within the Harlow area and the unemployment rate in the Church Langley area has consistently been the lowest in the whole of Harlow (97% in employment). Church Langley has the largest number (51.3%) of managers and senior officials, professionals, and associate professional and technical employees in the whole of Harlow (33.8%) and favours well when compared to Great Britain (40%)199.

Are there any evidence gaps?

11.4.13 The Employment Land Review will need to be finalised before its findings can be utilised in the LDF process.

11.5 What will be the situation without the plan? (the ‘business-as-usual’ option)

11.5.1 Harlow faces several key challenges with regards to its economy. The District has not developed as a ‘strong’ sub-regional centre: stability of growth is questionable in Harlow, employment levels fluctuate, and in-commuting to Harlow exceeds out-commuting. The locally small labour market has failed to keep up with local labour requirements and the local population is in decline in contrast to the wider area. Harlow is in effect losing out to the Harlow Sub-Region where conditions have been much more favourable and where the opportunities exist for Harlow in terms of a wide catchment area that have not been capitalised upon. This situation would be harder to overturn without a Core Strategy. Plans to regenerate Harlow will also suffer as a result of no Core Strategy and, although the economy is showing signs of diversifying, this may stall in absence of a plan and the District may not continue to attract foreign investment in an increasingly competitive international market.

11.5.2 The Employment Land Review identifies employment locations and provides employment advice to feed in to the Core Strategy. Without a plan it is unlikely that the findings of this study will be taken up and instead action would occur through the RSS and not in conjunction with localised thinking and planning for example training and transport. It is also noted that all the employment locations identified in this Review will require some form of action to maintain their position and a lack of plan will make this harder to achieve.

11.5.3 Although Harlow has generally an economically active labour force, it suffers in terms of the number of residents in full time education and local residents tend to lose out with higher income jobs going to in-commuters. Local authority efforts to provide higher levels of local employment and job creation and skills development will be hampered without the assistance provided by a local plan.

11.5.4 According to the Harlow Regeneration Strategy scoping work: “it is probably unrealistic to believe that Harlow can, in the short to medium term, once again become a highly self-contained labour market. But building a more sustainable economy and labour market could be achieved in the long term". Without a Core Strategy in place, it will be even more difficult to achieve this long term goal201.

(1) 11.6 What issues should be a particular focus for the appraisal?

11.6.1 In light of the information above, key issues to take into account in the appraisal in relation to economy and employment include:

  • The need to support initiatives that capitalise on the wider Harlow Sub-Region catchment area

  • The need to support job creation within Harlow of an appropriate scale and type

  • To encourage a diversified economy and to increase foreign investment within the District

  • To address the low levels of skills, training and qualifications within the District

  • The need to ensure that job creation is matched by the provision of appropriate facilities and infrastructure.


174 Kent CC (2007) Kent Prospects 2007 - 2012 [online] available at:
www.kent.gov.uk/publications/community-and-living/kent-prospects-2007-to-2012.htm (accessed 21 July 2009).

175 ODPM (2005) Planning Policy Statement 1: Delivering Sustainable Development [online] available at:
www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/planningpolicystatement1 (accessed 29 June 2009).

176 ODPM (1992) Planning Policy Guidance 4: Industrial, Commercial Development and Small Firms [online] available at:
www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/ppg4 (accessed 29 June 2009).

177 Communities and Local Government (2009) Planning Policy Statement – Consultation Paper on a new Planning Policy Statement 4: Planning for Prosperous Economies [online] available at:
www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/consultationeconomicpps (accessed 25 August 2009)

178 See: www.communities.gov.uk/housing/housingsupply/growthareas/growthareasby/londonstanstedcambridge/

179 GOEE (2008) East of England Plan [online] available at:
www.gos.gov.uk/goeast/planning/regional_planning/ (accessed 18 August 2009).

180 PACEC and Halcrow Group Limited (2005) Harlow Regeneration Strategy – Final Report [online] available at:
http://www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/business_services/regeneration_unit/harlow_regeneration_strategy.asp (accessed 18 August 2009).

181 Harlow Council (2007) Regeneration Strategy and Implementation Plan 2007-2009 [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/business_services/regeneration_unit/harlow_regeneration_strategy.asp (accessed 18 August 2009).

182 Harlow Council (undated) Harlow (Draft) Regeneration Strategy 2009-2021 [not available online].

183 Harlow 2020 Local Strategic Partnership Board (2006) Harlow 2020 Vision 2006-09 [online] available at:
www.harlow2020.org.uk (accessed 18 August 2009).

185 Harlow Council (2009) Harlow Sustainability Strategy [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/corporate_services/policy_and_performance/sustainability_strategy.aspx (accessed 13 August 2009).

186 PACEC and Halcrow Group Limited (2005) Harlow Regeneration Strategy – Final Report [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/business_services/regeneration_unit/harlow_regeneration_strategy.asp (accessed 18 August 2009).

187 PACEC and Halcrow Group Limited (2005) Harlow Regeneration Strategy – Final Report (online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/business_services/regeneration_unit/harlow_regeneration_strategy.asp (accessed 18 August 2009).

188 PACEC and Halcrow Group Limited (2005) Harlow Regeneration Strategy - Evidence Base and Analysis of Needs – Final Report [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/business_services/regeneration_unit/harlow_regeneration_strategy.aspx (accessed 18 August 2009).

189 ONS. Key Figures for Economic Deprivation, 2006-2007 [online] available at:
http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk (accessed 18 August 2009).

190 PACEC and Halcrow Group Limited (2005) Harlow Regeneration Strategy - Evidence Base and Analysis of Needs – Final Report [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/business_services/regeneration_unit/harlow_regeneration_strategy.aspx (accessed 18 August 2009).

191 Source: ONS. Key Figures for Economic Deprivation, 2006-2007 [online] available at:
http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk (accessed 18 August 2009).

192 PACEC and Halcrow Group Limited (2005) Harlow Regeneration Strategy - Evidence Base and Analysis of Needs – Final Report [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/business_services/regeneration_unit/harlow_regeneration_strategy.aspx (accessed 18 August 2009).

193 PACEC and Halcrow Group Limited (2005) Harlow Regeneration Strategy - Evidence Base and Analysis of Needs – Final Report [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/business_services/regeneration_unit/harlow_regeneration_strategy.aspx (accessed 18 August 2009).

194 PACEC and Halcrow Group Limited (2005) Harlow Regeneration Strategy - Evidence Base and Analysis of Needs – Final Report [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/business_services/regeneration_unit/harlow_regeneration_strategy.aspx (accessed 18 August 2009).

195 ONS. Key Figures for Indices of Deprivation and Classification [online] available at:
http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk (accessed 18 August 2009).

196 ONS. Key Figures for Education, Skills and Training, 2007-2008 [online] available at:
http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk (accessed 18 August 2009).

197 Harlow 2020 Partnership (2008) Harlow 2020 Vision – Key achievements 2007-08 [online] available at:
www.harlow2020.org.uk/downloads/key_achievements/harlow_2020_report.pdf (accessed 18 August 2009).

198 Harlow Council (2006) Harlow Ward Profiles – Staple Tye [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/business_services/growth_and_regeneration/regeneration_unit/key_statistics_and_data/harlow_ward_profiles.aspx (accessed 18 August 2009).

199 Harlow Council (2006) Harlow Ward Profiles – Church Langley [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/business_services/growth_and_regeneration/regeneration_unit/key_statistics_and_data/harlow_ward_profiles.aspx (accessed 18 August 2009).

201 PACEC and Halcrow Group Limited (2005) Harlow Regeneration Strategy - Evidence Base and Analysis of Needs – Final Report [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/business_services/regeneration_unit/harlow_regeneration_strategy.aspx (accessed 18 August 2009).

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