London Calling: The GLA sets out its view on household growth across England

London skyline

The Greater London Authority (GLA), dissatisfied with household projections issued by the ONS, has this morning released its own projection. This new work by the GLA not only covers Greater London authorities but also projects household growth for all English authorities. This represents the first time that a single authority (other than the ONS) has ventured its own views on the distribution of household and population growth nationally.

This move comes only weeks in advance of the Government releasing its much awaited standardised methodology for calculating the need for housing.

Whether the GLA projection model and the DCLG standardised methodology will   ‘speak to each other’ remains to be seen and is a potential point of contention and indeed confusion.  

In this initial comment, we show the pattern of growth that the GLA projects for England and highlight the main differences between the GLA’s new projection and the 2014-based Sub National Household Projections.

What has been released?

The GLA has released new demographic trend-based population and household projections, which integrate the 2016 mid-year population estimates published last month.

Although three variant household projections have been produced, the ‘Central variant’ is considered by the GLA to represent the most appropriate scenario for medium to long-term strategic planning, and to inform the forthcoming London Plan.

What is the Central variant projection based on?

The GLA’s preferred projection is based on migration rates recorded over a ten year period (2007 – 2016). This contrasts with the five year horizon (2009 – 2014) which the latest official 2014based sub-national population projections (SNPP) produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) are based on.

This short-term population trend is also integral to the official 2014based household projections produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which remain the ‘starting point’ for objectively assessing housing needs.

The new data released by the GLA illustrates the implications of basing demographic trends on a longer-term ten year historic period.

The GLA’s view of growth across England

We have compared the growth projected by the GLA and the ONS 2014based household projections. Our plan colour codes local authorities that the GLA project to have higher and lower growth than the ONS household projections.

The plan shows that the GLA projections anticipate the following trends:

  • A lower level of household growth for much of Greater London and some authorities in the South East
  • A lower level of growth around the core cities conurbations
  • A higher level of growth for the majority of local authorities in England
     

Click on the map below to expand it

Map of England comparing 2016 based GLA projections with 2014 based household projections

Implications

The GLA’s projection model provides an illustration of household distribution across England resulting from the application of longer-term migration trend assumptions. Whether this is a representative and appropriate approach for all local authorities in England is unclear and this will be a matter for local plan examinations.

Linked to this, it is also unclear what the relationship of this new GLA projection is to the much awaited ‘standardised methodology’ for calculating objectively assessed housing needs. It is not apparent whether the GLA and DCLG have been collaborating to ensure that both approaches ‘speak to each other’.

There remains a distinct risk that the GLA will continue to seek to plough its own furrow in its assessment of need leaving a London-sized hole in any ‘standardised methodology’ that the Government seeks to promote.

For London, the GLA projections still continue to project a need to accommodate over 50,000 additional households annually over the period from 2014 to 2039. To date Greater London has fallen considerably short of delivering this number of homes every year. The GLA intends to publish its 2017 Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) later this year and will use this to generate a further housing-linked projection reflecting its assessment of capacity. This is more than likely to generate a level of unmet need for new housing, the implications of which will need to be considered by authorities across the South East and East of England in particular.

Conclusion

The data released today provides the GLA’s in-house view on the potential distribution of household growth across England. It does not provide a blueprint for England or clarify the way in which individual local planning authorities should respond in their own plan making and setting housing requirements. However, it does perhaps illustrate Greater London’s direction of travel.

Turley will be monitoring the development of the GLA’s projections and the forthcoming standardised OAN methodology from the DCLG. To find out more about how this could affect you, speak to Antony Pollard or Andrew Lowe.

11 July 2017