ARobinson referred to the draft Employment and Skills Planning document, noting that the consultation has now taken place with comments received and that the document has now been revised. The report is now in for final review before going to Cabinet and Council for adoption. Once in place, the document will require developers to provide social value strategies and will be required to put in place a number of measures around skills and apprenticeships for local people to access training and employment opportunities.
The Chair referred to 3.7 and policy CS14 that sufficient land will be allocated to accommodate growth in the economy of approximately 10,000 jobs between 2006 and 2031. The Chair noted that Hemel Garden Communities also states the potential to create 10,000 jobs and queried if there would be over 10,000 jobs by 2031. ARobinson advised that the policy was adopted in 2011-12 and was the trajectory at this point in time with Hemel Garden Communities coming in later. ARobinson suggested that there would be an overlap in the numbers and it was unlikely that a further 10,000 jobs would be created on top of those within the core strategy and agreed to look into the numbers further.
Cllr Taylor asked for further information on what types of work the 10,000 jobs would cover. ARobinson advised that the SPD will not create 10,000 jobs and stated that they will compel developers of developments of over 30 dwellings to provide training and apprenticeships. The reference to 10,000 is regarding a broader target across all sectors.
Cllr Taylor queried how many dwellings will be affordable for those in the jobs created. ARobinson stated that housing affordability sits outside the SPD, though there is a policy for 30% affordable housing and DBC is looking at a new affordable housing policy as part of the local plan. The standalone requirement to provide affordable homes is separate to the SPD. Cllr Taylor suggested that they look at how the two areas could work together in future. ARobinson agreed that the local plan should look at employment, housing and affordability to ensure that objectives are being balanced correctly.
Cllr Taylor recommended that a context diagram be created to demonstrate the different policies and how they are connected to allow for further discussion.
On job creation, ARobinson advised that the developer will discuss with DBC what opportunities they can offer. For residential developments, opportunities are likely to be mainly in construction. For commercial operations, there will be potential opportunities for ongoing employment and DBC will work with the developer on what opportunities they would like to see.
Cllr Stevens commented that he did not feel this would be well received by developer industries and that developers will require skilled people to be able to proceed.
The Chair asked if all local authorities are completing SPDs to do their local plans.
ARobinson advised that a number of local authorities develop SPDs, though they are not required to develop a local plan, and they are completed to help provide additional guidance and ensure that developers are giving the best possible products to Dacorum.
The Chair asked if a neighbouring authority not having an SPD would be an easier development scenario compared to Dacorum. ARobinson said it was unlikely that a developer would make an investment decision on the basis of an SPD.
ARobinson advised that there is a national shortage in construction skills and therefore a number of developers already have initiatives in place. The SPD highlights that Dacorum expects the scheme to be in line with what is required in the area and that DBC wants more influence on the types of training and apprenticeship programmes on offer. The Chair suggested that a developer would naturally look at where to locally acquire skills and asked why DBC was involved in the process. ARobinson stated that it would depend on how proactive they want to be and that they would risk there being an unmet need in the area.
Cllr Stevens commented on section 5.6 and 5.7 on page 91 of the report and suggested that they are adding another burden on developers. ARobinson explained that the council will appoint a delivery partner who will talk to developers to secure skills and apprenticeships and developing the strategy, noting that they would need to look at whether this will be a DBC employee or an external delivery partner.
Cllr Stevens noted that companies have been set up to procure apprenticeships and fail to deliver and asked how this would be avoided. ARobinson stated that if they go with an external partner then any contract would ensure there are clear delivery requirements to mitigate the risk of a contractual breach. ARobinson stated that the option of outsourcing this work is currently being considered.
Cllr Wilkie noted that the SPD includes residents who want to work but are unable to do so due to factors outside their control, such as disability, sickness or caring responsibilities, and asked if they could compel a developer to include these residents. ARobinson advised that they could not insist upon a percentage with developers and that the intention is particular needs would be discussed with the developer, such as opportunities for disabled or younger residents, though this will depend on when and where the development takes place.
Cllr Wilkie commented on delivery and asked what the consequences would be on developers not delivering on the agreed strategy. ARobinson explained that the developer will sign up to the 106 agreement, including the skills strategy, and if they are not complying the DBC will have the ability to enforce against this. The Section 106 agreement is standard in planning and there is a good monitoring system in place to monitor obligations. The monitoring will be an additional burden though it is hoped that delivery of this through existing systems can take place.
Cllr Beauchamp commented on article 4 directions and asked if they expected to expand this into more localised areas to allow those who have developed skills to continue to work locally. ARobinson confirmed that they regularly review article 4 directions though there are no immediate plans to roll out further article 4s at this stage as there is no current justification to do so and this will be reconsidered when necessary. Cllr Beauchamp commented on the loss of Amazon, to which ARobinson stated that the space could be repurposed by another company.
Cllr Timmis referred to the consultations and noted how impressed she was on how the consultation was publicised, though it received a low level of responses with 16 comments, of which 8 stated that they had no specific comments to make. ARobinson confirmed that the consultation was much wider than this. Cllr Timmis acknowledged this and noted that there were only 16 respondents. Referring to the comments, Cllr Timmis asked how they would ensure jobs are offered across the whole of the borough and asked for further clarification on the response to the query regarding operational staged outcomes.
ARobinson acknowledged the lack of response and suggested that higher levels of responses tend to indicate a negative reaction, though it was disappointing that not many residents had chosen to engage.
Cllr Hearn noted the Dacorum Economic Recovery Plan, which was given approval by Cabinet in October, and asked how this is developing. ARobinson advised that he is not in charge of the recovery plan and could ask for an update.
The Chair stated that he was unsure on the next steps and that this was not covered in the report. ARobinson noted that they are still undecided on whether the service will be offered in-house, noting that doing so would allow them to have control of the process and ensure direct interaction, however there isn't an identified resource that is trained in this area. It will take time to build up the funds to train and pay a member of staff. An external resource would be ready from day one but the risk would be the loss of institutional memory. ARobinson confirmed that the SPD can be adopted, though they would like a full recommendation in place by the time it is taken to full Council. ARobinson noted that they could also look to hire an external consultant for a year whilst they build up their own internal capacity.
ACTION: ARobinson to look into policy CS14 and creation of 10,000 jobs alongside claim from Hemel Garden Communities of 10,000 jobs.
ACTION: ARobinson to request an update on the Dacorum Economic Recovery Plan.