A new planning framework in Wales aims to show where new services, jobs and homes need to be created over the next 20 years with an emphasis on more urban living. As part of the development vision, thousands of new council homes will be built, as well as large-scale wind and solar energy projects. Housing Minister Julie James said she was committed to building more council housing “at pace and scale”.
Some key points from the new planning framework include:
- High density does not necessarily mean high rise – and developments should focus on maintaining a high quality of life by utilising green infrastructure.
- Increased emphasis on biodiversity – green spaces to be used as a key parts of developments to ensure that the long-term future land need of habitats and species are protected.
- An extra 114,000 homes are needed over the next 20 years – including 3,900 affordable or council homes a year – to sustain population growth.
- The favouring of large solar energy and on-shore wind developments in prime areas, as part of a larger target to generate 70% of electricity from renewables by 2030.
- More charging points to support increasing use of electric vehicles.
- An increase in woodland – the development of a national forest across a number of locations will help achieve the target of 2,000 extra hectares a year from 2020.
Previous developments within Wales have echoed the key points emphasised in the new planning framework, such as Loftus Garden Village – 250 homes on tree-lined streets outside of Newport city centre. As well as a school and surgery nearby, play areas and a community kitchen garden provide a focal point for the development, allowing residents to congregate and interact. There are also two parks full of flowers and mature trees that the houses look onto, maintained by two permanent gardeners employed by the housing association that built it.
As for ownership across the development, some homes are privately-owned, others are shared ownership with the housing association Pobl and some are rented social housing.
“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.”
– Alicia Cruse, Resident
The Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru has “strongly welcomed” the plans to increase the amount of council homes and said it must remain at the forefront of discussions to show how affordability was “understood and translated in reality” to enable people to thrive in communities.
As we have previous experience designing eco-homes and passive houses, through to neighbourhood and master planning, we are hopeful that the recent developments in Wales will provide further proof of the benefits of of affordable and social housing. With recent guidelines on net gain for biodiversity, we are also glad that the new planning framework places such a strong emphasis on natural habitats and the environment. As previously mentioned, we hope that the local authorities see value in the Lifetime Homes scheme and how houses built to these specifications ensure security for an ageing population.