Monmouth may have no new houses or employment sites for 11 years
Twm Owen, Local Democracy Reporter
No new housing or employment sites will be planned in Monmouth over the next 11 years if proposed changes to a county wide planning blueprint are accepted.
Though the town is designated as one of Monmouthshire’s primary and most sustainable settlements, it will be removed from the council’s replacement local development plan, which sets out where new housing and employment sites should be located, due to an inability to tackle pollution of the River Wye in the area.
County councillors are being asked to approve the changes when they meet next week as well as reducing the overall number of new homes planned across the county by as much as 2,400 following objections from the Welsh Government.
That would see the number of desperately-needed new affordable homes that could be built slashed by nearly 700.
It fears too much development in the county will undermine expansion in what it has allocated the “national growth area of Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys”.
The council’s ‘preferred strategy’, published in summer 2021, wanted to identify sites for 8,366 homes across Monmouthshire based on the primary settlement areas of Abergavenny including Llanfoist; Chepstow and Monmouth including Wyesham and Severnside (Caldicot, Caerwent, Crick, Magor, Undy, Rogiet, Portskewett and Sudbrook), with some growth in ‘secondary settlements’ of Penperlleni, Raglan and Usk as well as rural settlements.
Though there would be provision for as many as 8,366 homes, the council had identified a requirement of 7,605.
As the plan period covers 2018 to 2033, some 3,940 homes have already been built, or planning permission granted, meaning it needed to find sites for 3,660 new homes.
But, due to the Welsh Government’s objection, that is now reduced to between 1,460 and 2,000 new homes, including 730 to 1,000 new affordable homes.
The council says most of those affordable homes need to be available for social housing, with 2020 figures stating social housing needed should make up 68 per cent of the new affordable homes, the others would either be available for rent or low-cost home ownership.
Civil servants have taken the “unprecedented” step of capping new homes in Monmouthshire at 4,275 through to 2033, which due to the number of homes already planned would “result in barely any new housing allocations” over the plan period, says a council report.
Local officials have instead drawn up the revised housing figures which they say are supported by evidence collected by the council.
They have also conceded areas along the Wye, north of Bigsweir Bridge, including Monmouth, will have to be removed from the plan as Welsh Water has no solution in place to reduce phosphates from the town’s waste water treatment plant.
The river is a protected Special Area of Conservation and a block on developments along parts of the Usk, which has the same status, would also have had to been put in place had the water company not had a “workable solution” to improve water quality at the Llanfoist Waste water Treatment Works.
Monmouthshire councillors are being recommended to accept the changes when they meet on Tuesday, September 27.
A revised ‘preferred strategy’ will then by presented to the council in December for its endorsement so it can be put out for consultation in December 2022 and January 2023.
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