Questions to CM Regeneration and Housing

Member question: Councillor Kellaway, received 3 May 2018

Subject: Young Enterprise event

Dear Cabinet member I’m sure you will agree with me the important contribution to Newport “young enterprise “plays and its impact on our future.  

Could you explain why did not feel it important enough to attend the recent young enterprise event and offer your support.

Response:

I was due to attend the event and unfortunately I was taken ill and as a consequence was unable to make the session. Issued 8 May 2018


Member question: Councillor Kellaway, received 27 February 2018

Subject: Newport Masterplan

The consultation regarding the masterplan for Newport seems to be thin on detail to say the least, particularly when you consider this is the future of our residents we are talking about. Does the CM believe there is sufficient detail in the consultation? 

I would also like to know how many residents have responded using the apps/website available following concerns I have received that the longwinded process is putting people off responding and therefore undermining the democratic process.

Response:

Thank you for your query.  

The document referred to is part of an ongoing conversation with stakeholders regarding the future of the city centre. It is intentionally high-level as a result, as we are inviting views on the direction of travel.  As you correctly point out, the document will have great relevance to the futures of a many residents and it should not be presented as a fait accompli for this very reason, but rather be an evolving document that takes into account feedback as proposals are shaped.  

Notwithstanding this, the reality of property development is highly commercial and the council’s dealings and aspirations would be significantly hamstrung if the full detail relating to each project was presented in full.  Negotiating positions would be weakened at best and projects lost at worst because insufficient care had been taken in this regard.  

We have received 20 responses to date. While the questionnaire was anything but long-winded at only five items, it is recognised that there were technical difficulties with the form that were preventing responses from arriving.  This has now been resolved, and an extension of three weeks made to the consultation period as a result. Issued 15 March 2018

 

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