Questions to CM Regeneration and Housing

Member question: Councillor Holly Townsend, received 5 July 2017

Subject: Replacement of Devon Place subway with footbridge

Could the Cabinet Member outline the current status on the replacement of the Devon Place subway with a footbridge?

Given ongoing delays, could the Cabinet Member spell out the administration’s strategy of getting this project back on track including the proposed actions of Cabinet Members.

Response:

Thank you for your recent question to the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing, which has been referred to me to respond to as the Cabinet Member for Streetscene, as this issue sits within my portfolio. 

A number of bids have been made to Welsh Government seeking capital funding to bring the status of the bridge to detailed design stage and ultimately deliver the structure for the city. 

However, with such a high number of competing transportation related priorities throughout the City Region, Welsh Government are unable to commit funding at this time. 

Council continues to promote the benefits of this pedestrian link with Welsh Government and explore options for future funding. Issued 19 July 2017


Member question: Councillor Chris Evans, received 19 July 2017

Subject: Affordable homes

I recently received a request from the left-leaning action group ’38 Degrees’ asking me to start a petition asking Newport City Council to close an apparent loophole in planning applications whereby developers are avoiding building affordable homes by allegedly manipulating their calculations for the required affordable housing dividend.

You will read that in Bristol and some another councils, action is being taken to close this loophole, rather than go through the petition process suggested in the mail and given the commitments being made by the Labour Party both nationally and in Wales to provide accessible housing, can you tell me what Newport City Council intend to do to address this alleged issue and can I further ask that this action is taken as a matter of urgency. 

Response: 

There is no such loophole in the planning system and therefore no need for any petition. Other councils are simply tightening up on their procedures but in Newport we already have clear affordable housing policies within the LDP and supplementary planning guidance.

We will always require affordable housing contributions from all residential development, even from a developer seeking to build only one unit, either in the form of a financial contribution or, for larger schemes, by the construction of an agreed number of affordable houses on site.  Once the affordable housing provision has been fixed, this is clearly stipulated in the Section 106 agreement with the developer and there is no opportunity to 'manipulate' the figures afterwards.  

National planning policy requires the viability of the scheme to be taken into account when fixing the affordable housing contribution.  However, council officers scrutinise the developer’s financial appraisals in minute detail, often taking independent valuation advice from the district valuer, to ensure that the assessments are robust and that developers are meeting their obligations in relation to affordable housing provision. 

The council will only agree to a reduced provision of affordable housing where there is a need for other planning gain contributions from the developer to meet education, leisure or transport needs.  

Therefore I can assure you that the council already has rigorous processes in place to maximise the provision of affordable housing. Issued 2 August 2017


Member question: Councillor Holly Townsend, received 5 July 2017

Subject: Replacement of Devon Place subway with footbridge

Could the cabinet member outline the current status on the replacement of the Devon Place subway with a footbridge?

Given ongoing delays, could the cabinet member spell out the administration’s strategy of getting this project back on track including the proposed actions of cabinet members. 

Response:

Thank you for your recent question to the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing, which has been referred to me to respond to as the Cabinet Member for Streetscene, as this issue sits within my portfolio.  

A number of bids have been made to Welsh Government seeking capital funding to bring the status of the bridge to detailed design stage and ultimately deliver the structure for the city.  

However, with such a high number of competing transportation related priorities throughout the City Region, Welsh Government are unable to commit funding at this time.  

Council continues to promote the benefits of this pedestrian link with Welsh Government and explore options for future funding. Issued 19 July 2017