More urban living – and thousands of new council homes – are part of a development vision for Wales by 2040.
A new planning framework aims to show where new homes, jobs and services need to be over the next 20 years.
Proposals also set out priority areas for large-scale wind and solar energy projects.
Housing Minister Julie James said she was committed to building more council housing “at pace and scale”.
She said the proposals – outlined in the National Development Framework – were also about bringing closer together the places where people live and work.
- An extra 114,000 homes are needed over the next 20 years – including 3,900 affordable or council homes a year
- Urban development “clusters” around Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys; Swansea Bay and Llanelli; Wrexham and Deeside
- Developments around public transport corridors and hubs, such as Metro stations
- High density does not necessarily mean high rise – and developments should still create “good quality of life” and green infrastructure
- In rural areas, priorities to encourage the food and drink sector, energy and tourism – as well as improved broadband
- Presumption in favour of large on-shore wind and solar energy developments in priority areas, as part of a target to generate 70% of electricity from renewables by 2030 – although this is not appropriate for national parks or areas of outstanding natural beauty
- Potential for “district heat networks” to provide low carbon heat from central sources – especially in urban areas, including Cardiff, Newport, Swansea, Wrexham and towns such as Barry, Brecon and Cwmbran
- More charging points to support increasing use of electric vehicles
- Increased emphasis on biodiversity – ensuring long-term future land need of species and habitats are protected; green space as part of development in urban areas
- An increase in woodland – developing a national forest across a number of locations will help achieve a target of 2,000 extra hectares a year from 2020
- Presumption to support new mobile telecom infrastructure in planning.
A SPLASH OF GREEN NEAR THE CITY CENTRE
Natasha Williams and her family live in Loftus Garden Village – 250 homes on tree-lined streets on the edge of Newport city centre.
It follows a move from the Ringland estate two years ago.
“It was quite a trek out, to get to the city centre it was at least one bus,” said Natasha. “Now it’s a 10 minute walk. I’ve recently been on maternity leave and share a car with my husband – but I was able to walk into town, do my shopping or have some lunch and haven’t needed the car.”
As well as a school and surgery nearby, the family also enjoy the play area and community kitchen garden – which is a focus for local people to meet.
“It’s really well thought of, my children love it in there,” said Natasha. “My husband also grows his own veg and so do a lot of other people from the estate.”
There are two parks full of mature trees and flowers that the houses look onto, kept tidy by two permanent gardeners employed by the housing association that built it. It brings people together too.
Although only recently built, Loftus Garden Village features traditional designs. Some homes are privately-owned, others are shared ownership with the housing association Pobl and some are rented social housing.
There is an echo of the “garden town” concept, which dates back to the first council housing in Wales in Townhill, Swansea, in the 1920s.
Dr Roisin Willmott, director of the Royal Town Planning Institute in Wales, said the Newport development was well thought out and an example of what could be done, even in the heart of the urban environment.
“In terms of housing, it needs to be near local services, tapped into good public transport links, walking and cycling,” she said. “We need to reduce the energy we use as well, whether that’s how we travel or heat our homes – and how we produce that energy is really important.”
In Cardiff – among 10 Welsh councils building local authority homes – there are aims to build 2,000 council homes, half by 2022.
The first 63 council homes have been completed in Llanrumney and St Mellons, alongside private developments.
Alicia Cruse is one of the new Llanrumney tenants, who moved from an old flat on the estate – and said there was a sense of pride.
“I was there for seven years and there were mould and bad damp problems – but because it was an old property it kept reoccurring. Since we moved here I can’t fault it. My boys find it amazing, they can play out with their friends, they absolutely love it.
“We can’t tell which ones are private and which ones are council properties – that’s a good thing, it makes council tenants feel less unfortunate. I have a lovely driveway, back garden, porch – those with a private house have the same.”
Ms James said she wanted to focus growth around existing towns and cities but would not forget rural communities.
“We need the best of both worlds – a world-leading city in Cardiff, thriving market towns all over Wales and sustainable rural communities with the sort of housing which allows children to stay and work there.”
Ms James, who grew up in a council house herself, said the biggest problem had been the scarcity of social housing to rent, both in rural communities and cities.
She said she was committed to building more council housing and more affordable homes from other social landlords.
“There is nothing in who owns it, it’s about what you’re offering to people in good, sustainable homes.”
The Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru “strongly welcomed” the ambition to greatly increase the amount of council homes and said it must remain at the forefront of discussions how affordability was “understood and translated in reality” to enable people to thrive in communities.
Events are also being organised as part of a public consultation.