As these determine how many new homes are planned for.
But the Office for National Statistics’ own population growth figures have just been questioned.
Today’s Coventry Observer carries a story which could have serious repercussions beyond the city:
‘Myth of massive population growth in Coventry exploded’ in new report, says countryside charity
THE ‘myth of massive population growth’ in Coventry – and the need to build houses in the Green Belt – has been ‘exploded’ by a new government report, say countryside campaigners.
The report published yesterday (May 10) by government watchdog the Office of Statistics Regulation (OSR) followed complaints to the UK Statistics Authority last November by CPRE Warwickshire and the Coventry & Warwickshire Keep Our Greenbelt Green campaign last November. It has called for the ONS to review its population projections on which future plans for thousands of new houses…
In a published letter to the ONS’s director general of economic statistics Jonathan Athow, OSR Director Ed Humpherson wrote: “You should work with areas such as Coventry and independent demographers as you develop new population estimates through the transformation programme.”
Sir Andrew Watson, chairman of CPRE Warwickshire, said “The Statistics Regulator’s findings support our evidence and also emphasise that ONS projections affect local planning decisions and can have far-reaching consequences… The planning authorities must now refuse the applications and review their Local Plans.”
Here’s their correspondence:
And this is from the OSR report:
The estimates are highly regarded, but there is a risk that ONS misses the bigger picture of what the population data inform and is not regularly sense checking what it does against local insight. Part of this sense checking involves drawing on the challenges from users in different parts of the country – in effect, for ONS to be open to the insights that come from people who say “those figures don’t reconcile with what we see in our area”. That is not to say that the insight should be taken without question. We are simply urging a creative conversation that regards this sort of feedback as useful intelligence to help sense check and quality assure the ONS estimates.
In short, then, we conclude in this review that ONS needs to build on what it does already and enhance its approach in three ways: improve methods; enhance communication; and embrace challenge.
In other words, to what extent is ‘housing need’ in the Sid Valley and in East Devon based on sound information on population?
These points were raised in the VGS’s own submission to the draft Local Plan last month:
Specifically, that it is impossible to make accurate economic forecasts:
And that the local body responsible for forecasting gets it consistently wrong:
Futures Forum: Is the Heart of the SW Local Enterprise Partnership delivering value for money? “Its below average performance – from unlocking investment to falling productivity – surely can only be seen as a failure?”
It also has to be asked to what extent the headline figures from five years ago are now out of date?
On the Devon County Council website, it is clear that the biggest growth in population has been in Exeter:
But numbers are projected to go up everywhere in the county – including East Devon – although, as the case in Coventry suggests, these might need to be ‘challenged’:
Here in the Sid Valley, ‘demand’ for housing has always been a difficult thing to determine:
With circular logic over ‘housing need’ and ’employment need’ feeding the current East Devon Local Plan:
It’s certainly generally been house builders who have pushed the ‘demand’:
Finally, it’s all about how you calculate ‘housing need’, as covered on these pages recently: