Welsh Local Government and housing: How can we improve?

David Morgan

Policy Manager (RICS)

We press Welsh Government Minister Carl Sargeant on key housing and planning issues — social housing, homes target and ending right to buy in Wales — at our roundtable debate with RSAW and CHC Cymru.

Houses

The debate covered a wide range of topics: the ending of right to buy in Wales, social housing, the 20,000 homes target and the role city regions could play in addressing housing needs. The meeting also discussed the importance of transport links to planning and housebuilding. Concerns were also raised around capacity in the planning system and Local Development Plans (LDPs).

Ahead of the general elections

RICS pressed the meeting on flexibility in converting excess retail to residential as one measure that could help. As we head into local elections in Wales, followed by the upcoming general elections, we stand ready to engage with all stakeholders to ensure the best possible functioning of the market in Wales to address the shortages across all classes of housing in Wales.

Welsh local government and housing roundtableLeft to right: Thomas Webb of RSAW, Daran Hill of Positif Politis and Welsh Government Minister Carl Sargeant

A focus on implementation

With the passage of the Wales Planning Act, the focus moving forward will be on implementation. Firstly to support uniformity of standards amongst differing local authorities, we reiterate our call during the passage of the Bill for regular secondment of planning officers throughout Wales and the wider UK to ensure sharing of best practice. We will remain engaged with the Law Commission group, which we are part of, that is looking at the operation of the planning system in Wales on behalf of Welsh Government.

Secondly we support the idea of fast-track planning for difficult-to-develop sites, such as brownfield. We also support groups of Local Planning Authorities (LPAs), co-ordinating their LDPs particularly on infrastructure requirements, to strengthen the city regions concept from Welsh Government that we also support.

We also feel that there could be greater use of taxation locally to encourage a more flexible approach to planning. As part of this, there could be tax incentives for smaller or self-builders, or less onerous section 106 agreements.

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