With two thirds of adults having had their first COVID-19 vaccine, the signs are that we are on the road to recovery. Focussing on planning and development, we take a look at the local and national measures being taken to fast track an economic bounce back.
The UK unemployment rate was at 4.9% at the end of February, about 1.0% higher than a year ago, meanwhile nearly 4.7 million workers were still furloughed. As businesses continue to open up, furloughing will decline until it closes in September. Accommodation and food remain the highest furloughed sector followed by retail.
At the national and local level, targeted plans and actions have been put in place. We have taken a look at a few of the recovery plans and the key themes emerging.
In the City of London, hit hard by the office worker exodus, the COVID-19 Recovery Plan focuses on attracting business back through its cultural offer of events; the quality of environment; and by expanding its business ecosystem. It also expects to see office to homes conversions – at least 1,500 homes by 2030.
Over in Westminster there are plans for a unique Marble Arch visitor attraction (Marble Arch Hill) and a new greener smarter framework for Oxford Street District.
A number of authorities intend to use planning, development and regeneration initiatives to get their economies back on track. In Warwickshire, the County Council’s Recovery Plan includes working in partnership with Homes England to remove the blocks that have prevented some sites in Warwickshire from being developed, progressing housing and area regeneration schemes across the county.
Lichfield in Staffordshire also intend to begin to implement their City Centre Masterplan; whilst in Tonbridge & Malling under the ‘Investment’ theme there is a recognised need to work towards the adoption of the Local Plan and the allocation of strategic sites and new employment allocations.
Tourism orientated localities have put a range of plans in place. In Exmoor, the COVID 19 – Recovery Plan considers the balance between managing potential bursts of “over tourism” alongside responding to new target audiences arising from changes in visitor behaviours and demographics. Similarly, Yorkshire’s recovery plan for the tourism sector looks to maximise the staycation market and expected domestic trends in UK based tourism.
At the national level there are a range of targeted funds and initiatives to drive economic recovery including the Levelling up Fund, allowing bids up to £20m for transport, regeneration or culture by 18th June this year for the first round. The Freeports programme also looks to increase global trade providing a boost for places such as Thurrock that will host the Thames Freeport, which has seen the Claimant Count (including Job Seeker’s Allowance) more than double over the last year.
Iceni Projects are currently advising more than 15 authorities on their economic needs or strategies as well as numerous economic, social and health impact assessments for developments across the country. Get in touch if we can assist.