Cardiff City Deal undermined by homes underdelivery, consultants warn

Underdelivery of new homes could hamper economic growth and regeneration ambitions for the Cardiff city-region, planning consultants in the area have warned.

Cardiff: report warns that City Deal could be undermined by homes underdelivery
Cardiff: report warns that City Deal could be undermined by homes underdelivery

According to research by consultants Lichfields, the figures councils will be using as the starting point for setting housing requirements in the next round of development plans will not support the ambitions set out in the £1.2 billion Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) City Deal.

The City Deal, signed in March, aims to create up to 25,000 new jobs by 2036, representing a 40 per cent increase above forecast levels of growth. It also sets out to attract an additional £4 billion of private sector investment to the region.

But Lichfields points out that the working age population in the city-region is anticipated to decrease by 6.1 per cent between 2017 and 2037. It says this factor, alongside a track record of housing underdelivery, will not satisfy the City Deal’s growth ambitions.

The firm’s analysis points out that the most recent round of Welsh Government population and household projections are heavily weighted towards trends over the last five years, "a period of frail recovery immediately following the recession", and take no account of economic conditions or regeneration aims.

"The 2014-based household projections indicate a level of household growth 21 per cent lower for Wales, and 16 per cent lower for the CCR, compared to the previous 2011-based projections between 2014 and 2036. This direction of travel is completely at odds with the City Deal aspirations for growth," the firm’s analysis warns.

Gareth Williams, senior director at Lichfields’ Cardiff office, said: "The most recent housing projections will not form a sound basis for the aspirational plan-making required to make the City Deal work. There is an urgent need to re-emphasise the link between housing delivery and economic growth and to place the housing issue more centrally within the City Deal programme.

"Critically, these projections assume a significant reduction in the number of working age people. Relying on these figures alone would perpetuate past patterns of economic underperformance. Planning policy across the Cardiff Capital Region must take account of the need to support economic growth by providing for an appropriate level of housing in accessible, attractive locations."

Williams said proposals for a South Wales Metro - a core component of the City Deal, with £734 million of funding earmarked - could act as a springboard for new housing development. "By aligning development with new and existing rail links, there is potential to provide an attractive housing offer that will appeal to young graduates and more experienced professionals," he said.

He added that, with proposals for a strategic development plan for South East Wales yet to take shape, there is a "timely opportunity" to coordinate housing policy across the region in alignment with the City Deal.

The ten local authorities behind the City Deal are Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen and Newport.

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