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Merthyr Tydfil Politics South Wales

Housebuilding targets in Merthyr Tydfil missed

Merthyr Tydfil Civic Centre

THE AMOUNT of housing built in Merthyr Tydfil over the last year is more than 30% lower than it needs to be at this point, a council report has said.

The council’s Local Development Plan annual monitoring report for 2023 said that, in the period between April, 2022, and March, 2023, 617 dwellings had been completed across the county borough during the year, with the target being 913.

It also said that targets were not being met in relation to the delivery of land allocated for employment and the number of jobs delivered, the improvement of priority open spaces using funding gained through the planning system, and heat generating renewable energy development.

Employment land and jobs

On employment land, the monitoring report said there had not been any development on allocated employment sites in this period, but due to the nature of employment developments being relatively large in terms of area and floorspace, this was likely to happen irregularly, and in sudden increases, rather than in smaller regular increments.

It also said these allocations were primarily large sites aimed at single, large employers and, with their associated infrastructure costs, might only prove to be more attractive when market conditions improved and/or when specialist users were found.

On jobs, it said there were zero (class B) jobs delivered over this period but that 118 jobs had been created since the adoption of the replacement LDP.

The monitoring report added: “While a small number of Class B developments were delivered during the monitoring period, they related to existing employment activities, and did not provide any additional jobs.

“However, as these developments result in expansions to the existing activities, they have the potential to increase the amount of jobs at these existing sites.

“Moreover, applications were approved during the monitoring period, which could provide additional Class B jobs, once constructed.”

It added that the amount of jobs delivered each year would need to increase significantly to meet the target of 1,251 by March, 2026.

Open spaces

The report said that no priority open spaces benefitted from section 106 or community infrastructure levy funding during the period covered but it mentioned that the council was implementing a significant capital programme to refurbish and or replace existing playgrounds across the county borough in order to improve the quality and accessibility of play provision with 10 playgrounds set to be refurbished by the summer of 2024.

Heat generating renewable energy

The report said that no renewable energy developments, that generated heat, were permitted over the monitoring period, although it mentioned that an approved local energy centre, made up of a combined heat and power plant at the Kepak/St Merryn’s site in Pengarnddu, was set to see excess heat released as a by-product of the electricity generation process which would be recycled so that it could be used for heating, hot water, steam and industrial processes at the site.

Most of the plan working well

But the report also said that most aspects of the plan and its strategy were working well, and that the policies of the replacement LDP were being implemented effectively.

It said that the majority of development (88%) had been permitted on previously developed land and that affordable housing continued to be delivered broadly in line with the target, but there remained a high level of need for affordable housing, particularly in relation to single person accommodation.

The report also said that policies that sought to protect environmental and historic designations had been implemented effectively, with no development granted against the relevant policies.

The committee report said: “Significant elements of the strategy and policies of the Replacement LDP have been working effectively since adoption, however housing delivery, and the delivery of employment land now require particular focus.”

It also said that, given the wider economic situation and financial implications following on from the pandemic, delivery of all types of development was likely to be impacted upon during this monitoring period.

What the council is doing to increase housing supply

To increase the supply of housing in Merthyr Tydfil, the council is involved in discussions with the council’s regeneration department and the landowner of the Hoover Factory Site to decide the most appropriate way to allow this housing allocation to be delivered.

The report said the planning department was working closely with the housing strategy and corporate property departments as well as with registered social landlords to bring forward several housing schemes to meet a variety of differing housing needs, such as homelessness, supported accommodation, adapted properties and temporary accommodation.

The council is also looking to use funding available from Development Bank Wales in order to bring forward several sites using the Self Build Wales model, and the housing department has also been closely involved with registered social landlords in Merthyr Tydfil to complete several sites that have stalled due to contractors going out of business, which, it is said, should result in schemes at East Street, Dowlais and north of Pant Industrial Estate being finished during the next monitoring period.

Also, an application for 121 houses in Twynyrodyn was approved during this monitoring period and developers have begun works on this which will result in a significant number of dwellings being delivered over the next 2-3 years, the report said.

The LDP annual monitoring report for 2023 is due to be considered by the council’s neighbourhood services, planning and countryside committee on Monday, November 13.

A full review of the plan will start in January and a review report will be published later in 2024.