Rhondda Cynon Taf Revised Local Development Plan 2022 - 2037 Preferred Strategy

Ended on the 17 April 2024

Section 6 – Growth Options


6.1.1 A fundamental part of the preparation the Revised LDP is to establish the most suitable level of growth for the plan to deliver. This is determined by a multitude of social, economic and demographic evidence, needs and aspirations. Primarily, this is related to the scale of housing which should be delivered in the RLDP. However, this is also intrinsically linked to the economy of RCT, in terms of employment growth and seeking to ensure a balanced future demographic in the County Borough, for its continued prosperity.

6.1.2 'Edge Analytics' have prepared a Demographic Evidence report for RCT. It sets out a detailed demographic and employment profile for the County Borough. It then configures a range of growth scenarios, both demographic and employment based. It concludes with an associated range of dwelling and employment growth outcomes for each of these scenarios from 2022 to 2037.

6.1.3 The Growth Options Paper follows on from this, setting out our analysis of these growth scenarios to determine what is most suitable for the Revised LDP, against a raft of relevant evidence and considerations.

6.1.4 Other such evidence that has informed this process includes:

  • LDP Review Report
  • Welsh Government 2018 Household and Population Projections
  • Office for National Statistics and Stats Wales
  • Housing Supply Paper
  • Candidate Site Assessments
  • The Urban Capacity Study
  • Local Housing Market Assessment

Growth Scenarios

Scenarios that showed similar outcomes were grouped for their analysis, as follows:

Mid-range Growth Scenarios

6.1.5 The first of the mid-range growth scenarios is based on the Welsh Government (WG) 2018 Principal Population Projections. The second is the Dwelling-led 5 year scenario. The WG-2018 option is considered to be the main (or 'central') projection, and its forecasts are based on assumptions such as mortality, migration, household composition, and future fertility, which are considered most reflective of demographic patterns at the time of publication. The Dwelling-led 5 year option has formulated projections utilising RCT's average annual housing completion rate of 509 dwellings per annum (2016/17 – 2020/21).

6.1.6 These projections have been translated to new housing requirements of 8,450 and 7,635 across the Revised LDP plan period, or 564 and 509 dwellings to be built per annum, respectively. The associated expected annual employment growth would be 266 and 187 jobs respectively.

Name of Projection Scenario


Total population change 2022-37

(% change)

Total households change 2022-37

(% change)

Total Dwellings (Dwellings per year)

Employment Growth per year


Principal Population Projections based on fertility, mortality, migration and household composition assumptions.

8,020 (3.3%)

8,009 (7.5%)




Dwelling-led 5Y

Models on an average annual dwelling growth equal to RCT's average annual housing completion rate 2016/17 – 2020/21.

6,406 (2.7%)

7,234 (6.8%)




6.1.7 Overall, the two mid-ranged growth scenarios are supported by the most substantial evidence. These scenarios each present realistically achievable growth scenarios, and the dwelling and job growth projected by these scenarios are reflective of RCT's position within the National Growth Area of Cardiff, Newport and The Valleys. The mid-ranged growth options have the benefit of providing a balance to delivering an ambitious but achievable amount of much needed private and affordable housing in sustainable locations, while minimising potential environmental impacts. Both of these scenarios are very positive and aspirational targets that could resolve multiple objectives of the revised LDP.

Higher Growth Scenarios

6.1.8 Two further scenarios have been considered that have higher levels of growth. The first follows the Welsh Government's 2018 High Population Projections and is based on high assumptions of fertility, mortality and migration compared to the principal projection. The second, PG (Pop Group company software) 5 Year scenario, calibrates population/household projections based on migration patterns of the last 5 years.

6.1.9 The new housing requirements of these scenarios are 721 and 682 per annum, and the annual employment growth would be 343 and 355 jobs respectively.

Name of Projection Scenario


Total population change 2022-37

(% change)

Total households change 2022-37

(% change)

Total Dwellings (Dwellings per year)

Employment Growth per year

Higher Variant

Based on higher assumptions of fertility, life expectancy and migration compared to the Principal Population Projections.

13,490 (5.6%)

10,238 (9.5%)





Calibrates migration assumptions using ONS data for Mid-year Population Estimates over the last 5 years (2015/16 – 2019/20)

12,135 (5.0%)

9,686 (9.0%)




6.1.10 These higher growth options would further accord with the aspirations of the national growth areas; increase the working age population and deliver greater numbers of affordable housing and jobs. However, there remains notable uncertainty and limited evidence that the dwelling requirements could realistically be achieved or delivered in RCT within the plan period to 2037. This would require far greater than average past build rates and expected market demand (indeed, the current LDP was perhaps too aspirational in this respect). Availability of greater amounts of suitable new land for allocation would prove a challenge. Overall, the higher growth options are considered a high-risk strategy, with perhaps unrealistic requirements and aspirations.

Low Growth Scenarios

6.1.11 The third set of growth scenarios include the WG-2018-Low Population scenario. In contrast to the 'higher' variant, the lower variant is based on low assumptions of fertility, mortality and migration, compared to the Principal Projection. The PG-Long Term scenario is then based on migration assumptions reflective of ONS Mid-year Population Estimates from 2001-2020 (19 years).

6.1.12 The new housing requirements of these scenarios are 353 and 382 per annum, and the annual employment growth would be 182 and 92 jobs respectively.

Name of Projection Scenario


Total population change 2022-37

(% change)

Total households change 2022-37

(% change)

Dwellings Total (dwellings per year)

Employment Growth per year

Lower Variant

Based on lower assumptions of fertility, life expectancy and migration compared to the Principal Population Projections.

129 (0.1%)

5,013 (4.7%)




PG-Long Term

Calibrates migration assumptions using ONS data for Mid-year Population Estimates (2001/02 – 2019/20)

1,867 (0.8%)

5,429 (5.1%)




6.1.13 The lower growth options are perhaps more easily achievable mainly through existing landbank sites, windfall sites and fewer allocations. However, these growth options are less ambitious and would be somewhat contrary to the aspirations of the National Growth Area set out in Future Wales – The National Plan. There is also recognised concern that these growth options would not meet the housing needs of the County Borough, both in terms of affordable housing and market housing. The impact on population growth would also cause further decline in the working age population.

Employment-Led Scenarios

6.1.14 The final set of growth scenarios are the 'Employment-led Oxford Economics' (OE) and 'Employment-led Policy-on'. The first considers what the impact would be of a 'Policy-off' approach, where population growth is driven by the forecast employment growth trends, without any policy intervention. On the other hand, the Employment-led Policy-on scenario considers the impact to population growth, driven by intervention in employment trends. The BE Group in conjunction with PER Consulting have prepared an Employment Land Review evidence base paper that sets out adjustments to the Oxford Economics forecasts; and assumes specific economic policy intervention to support growth primarily in the B2/B8 industrial land use classes.

6.1.15 The new housing requirements of these scenarios are 447 and 588 per annum, and the annual employment growth would be 32 and 168 jobs respectively.

Name of Projection Scenario


Total population change 2022-37

(% change)

Total households change 2022-37

(% change)

Dwellings Total (Dwellings per year)

Employment growth per year

Employment-led OE

Models the population growth based on the Oxford Economics forecast for employment growth of +32 per year.








Employment-led Policy-on

Models the population growth based on the adjusted average annual employment growth of +168 per year for RCT, assuming growth primarily in the industrial land use classes.








6.1.16 The employment-led scenarios provide realistic, achievable options, though each with differing outcomes. Both of the scenarios are projected to lead to a decrease in the working age population by the end of the plan period, although this is far more significant in the OE scenario (2.75% decline) than the Policy-On scenario (0.65% decline). Similar to the mid-ranged scenarios, these growth options would be unlikely to achieve the identified need of affordable housing, as set out in the Local Housing Market Assessment 2024 Draft Findings. The OE scenario in particular is considered unlikely to be appropriate for RCT, due to low forecasts of employment and housing growth.

Preferred Growth Option for the Revised LDP – The Welsh Government 2018 Principal Projections.

6.1.17 Given consideration to the analysis, three options stand out as being the most appropriate growth options for the RLDP. These are the two mid-range demographic scenarios and the Policy-on employment scenario. These are projected to deliver the most appropriate and considered levels of housing and employment growth. However, the latter is projected to deliver fewer new jobs than the mid-ranged demographic scenarios and has a negative impact on the working age population.

6.1.18 From the two mid-ranged growth scenarios, the WG-2018 Principal Projection option is considered to produce preferential outcomes for the County Borough compared to the Dwelling-led 5Y variant. The greater housing requirement associated with the WG-2018 option will lead to a greater number of affordable housing and market housing built. It is a more aspirational housing target with regards to being around 10% greater than the past 5 year average housing completion rate, whilst also in-keeping with the national growth area. The analysis method and its parameters also indicate that this would provide over 1,000 more new jobs than the Dwelling-led 5Y growth option. The WG-2018 option is further projected to foresee an increase in the working age population of RCT.

6.1.19 It is recognised that delivering the identified housing need is very challenging however seeking to meet the WG-2018 projections provides the better opportunity to deliver a variety of high quality new housing, including affordable housing. It is felt that aspiring to lower growth levels than these would not be appropriate; although this would be subject to ensuring that the RCT RLDP can fully evidence certainty over its delivery, throughout the plan's preparation.

6.1.20 The Housing Supply Paper sets out the evidence to indicate how this growth option of 8,450 dwellings can be achieved (with an additional, appropriate buffer of housing land). This will be delivered through the housing landbank, an initial total of land from potentially suitable Candidate Sites and a likely windfall housing land contribution.

The Employment Land Review paper and the strategic employment policy later in the Preferred Strategy, also set out how the RLDP will seek to achieve the proposed employment growth.

Neighbouring Local Authority and South East Wales Regional Considerations

6.1.21 It is necessary to note that there are high levels of housing delivery proposed in neighbouring LPAs and South East Wales in general, and this has created an additional consideration that RCT must take account of. Much of this growth is greater than the WG higher growth projections for the respective Authorities. Regional analysis and reports also indicate proposals for growth significantly above the NDF levels. Our evidence base analysis indicates some interdependency between our housing markets and our neighbours'. All this has been fully considered by RCT. However, it remains that there will always be matters ongoing, and proposals in neighbouring authorities, that remain outside our control and may be subject to change.

6.1.22 The Principal Projections that RCT have determined to plan for, remain proportionally lower than others, and aligned with National Policy. We have a duty to ensure we fully understand our own housing, economic and demographic needs in RCT. The RLDP should ensure that we address and meet these specific needs, fulfil our own aspirations for appropriate growth for RCT, alongside the consideration of the NDF regional growth areas and neighbouring authorities.

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