Thursday, 29 January 2015

City's Housing need projections fall apart as Enterprise Zone job expectations 'flop'

Image used by HM Gov. to publicise Lancashire Enterprise Zone

Unfortunately the Lancashire Enterprise Zone near Preston, created in 2011 and anchored by two BAE sites at Samlesbury and Warton, was slated by government ministers last month (read BBC report) as the UK's 'worst-performing', as it had not yet created any jobs.

Projections of 13,000 new jobs there, which were quoted by Turley Associates in their Lancaster Housing Requirements Report, published in October 2013, were used to argue a need in the local housing plan for 12,000 new homes to be built in the Lancaster area.

Turley's figures are now shown to be in need of considerable downward revision, as were their population growth projections. (See previous story: 'City Council 12,000 new homes target based on obsolete figures') Both projections now appear to have been heavily skewed upwards and based on discredited data.

BAE Systems, who manufacture arms and associated weaponry and security systems, are strong attractors of government (taxpayer) subsidy. They are major movers and shakers in Lancashire and Cumbria, with their upbeat projections for expansion of the Lancashire / Cumbria military-industrial complex via new taxpayer-funded UK defense contracts cited in numerous regional planning documents.

Having its sites reclassified as an Enterprise Zone means that BAE is subject to lower business rates and fast-track planning permission.

The region appears to have been pinning its hopes on increasing global instability with an accompanying lucrative growth in the arms and security market. BAE has a track record of bribery, most notably the Al-Yamamah arms deal scandal. Its customers include some of the world's most repressive regimes and many of their products are designed for the domestic, forceful control and pacification of civilian populations. It had been anticipated by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership  that other businesses would naturally want to be close to them.

Lancaster City Council told us last May that they commissioned a study of local economic projections in relation to new housing need from Turley in 2013. It was expected in mid 2014 but, as far as we know, it has not yet been published.

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