Thursday, 29 January 2015

What's happening in the Borough - the annual local plan monitoring report

The CWaC Local Plan Annual Monitoring Report has just been considered by the council's LDF Panel which I chair.  This lengthy document contains a wealth of data about the Borough from the economic and development standpoint.

The document is well worth a read - as it looks at a range of indicators that give a clear impression as to how well we are doing in the Borough.

The first thing to say is that the unemployment rate in CWaC is 5.7%. This compares very favourably with the Great Britain rate of 7.2% and the North West of England rate of 7.9%.

The report looks at many indicators - but one of the ones that is of particular interest to us in Frodsham is the vacancy rate for our shops and retail premises.  

Frodsham has by far the lowest vacancy rate in the Borough at 2.63% - this compares with Neston's vacancy rate of 10.34% and Chester's of 14.18% the next lowest figures.  It is also good to see that Frodsham's vacancy rate has fallen to 2.63% again  - the same rate as we had in 2011 and 2012 and down from a high of 3.95% in 2013.

Another core indicator for the Borough is the number of new houses constructed.  In the 2013-14 year our housing stock grew by a net 970 houses - the highest figure we've seen since 2005-06.  The rate  of completions is also accelerating with 529 of these 970 houses completed in the period 1 October 2013 - 31 March 2014.

We think the figures for the year we are in will be of the order of 1100 house completions - which is the rate we set out in the draft Local Plan as the long term house completion rate until 2030.  The other good news for all of us in CWaC is that a planning inspector has now accepted that we have 5 years supply or more of housing land in the Borough.  This now provides the council with solid planning reasons to refuse speculative applications from developers to construct houses in the green belt.  This isn't an issue that has affected us in Frodsham particularly - but it has in other communities.

House price figures also tell an interesting tale.

The average house price in the Borough is £151,953 - up 2.7% in the year to March 2014. The average for the north west is £108,814.  The average figure for England and Wales is £169,134.

Employment figures are also interesting.

As a Borough the average earnings per residence is £525.90 per week compared with £483.20 in the north west and the Great Britain average of £518.10.  The figures also show that many residents from the Borough commute to other places outside the Borough - demonstrating what we know - that our Borough is a great place to live!

These figures show that the recovery is well under way here - with economic activity very much on the up.