The Welsh Conservatives will today launch a new strategy for urban renewal, with the aim of delivering towns and cities in Wales which are fit for the 21st century. [See Notes to Editors for details]
At the heart of the strategy is an emphasis on “liveability”, with a series of proposals to deliver “healthier, happier” cities.
The White Paper, brought forward by Shadow Environment Secretary – David Melding – addresses the lack of an overarching national strategy at Welsh Government level, and contains a number of significant proposals to create, maintain and develop urban liveability in Wales.
Welsh cities have so far missed out on the significant economic growth of other metropolitan areas across the UK – including London, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh – but the advent of regional growth deals in Cardiff and Swansea provide new opportunities, whilst also presenting a significant challenge to planners.
Around two-thirds of the Welsh population live in urban areas and that proportion continues to rise each year.
The document, entitled ‘Liveable Cities – A Strategy for Welsh Urban Renewal’ introduces 25 policy proposals to transform our urban environments. The policies are conceived with the short, medium and long-term in mind, and address four key themes: Lifestyle, Transport, Housing and Design.
Within the document are a number of ambitious ideas, including proposals to:
- Make Cardiff the UK’s first Carbon Neutral City;
- Pilot a city wide singleuse plastics ban in Wales;
- Ensure that all commercial developments of over 1,000 m² must have green roofing for at least 50% of the total roof area of the development;
- Publicly owned urban brownfield sites will be provided at a discount to develop Urban Eco Quarters – housing developments with shared gardens and which are high density, sustainable and provide for a mixture of tenures;
- Implement clean air zones in Newport, Swansea, Cardiff and Wrexham;
- Co-ordinate our urban policies so that more of Wales’ busiest streets can become pedestrian zones.
Shadow Environment Secretary, David Melding, said:
“With more than two thirds of the Welsh population now living in the country’s urban areas, there is an urgent need for a strategy to ensure that our towns and cities are healthier, happier living spaces.
“We have an ambitious and innovative set of proposals to reimagine urban areas to avoid the dangers of overcrowding and urban sprawl which have blighted other parts of the world.
“Regional growth deals in Cardiff and Swansea can serve as a catalyst to attracting highly skilled young people from across the country, but that will only heighten the need to create ‘liveable cities’ which are good for the economy, whilst remaining socially inclusive, and environmentally sustainable.”
Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, said:
“This is an ambitious strategy to improve our urban spaces, and to make our cities and towns places where people want to live.
“As a party with truly national ambition, we need to be tackling the issues faced by people in every part of the country – and that includes a bold vision to improve our steadily growing cities and towns: from Wrexham and Rhyl in the north, to Newport and Barry in the south.
“With no national strategy to speak of, and with economic growth expected to continue to increase the size and populace of our urban areas in the coming years, this White Paper can kick-start a serious debate about the kind of towns and cities we want to build.
“From tackling the lack of ambition in our transport and planning departments, to introducing creative new thinking to make our cities cleaner and healthier – this document proves that it’s the Welsh Conservatives that have the ideas to change our communities for the better.”