Welsh cities must improve their urban design if they are to take full advantage of economic opportunities, according to a Welsh Conservative debate this afternoon.
Shadow Secretary for Housing and the Environment, David Melding, will argue that cities and urban areas are a key driver for economic resilience and prosperity – and stress the importance of developing “robust and innovative” city deals.
To propose that the National Assembly for Wales:
- Notes the international trend to evaluate cities on liveability and green and sustainability criteria;
- Believes that cities and urban areas are a key driver for economic resilience and prosperity;
- Commends the value of the following objectives and strategies to promote urban renewal and regeneration:
- Access to clean, open space;
- Availability of affordable housing;
- Effective traffic management and the provision of high quality public transport;
- The development of active transport routes, including the re-designation on some existing routes for cycling and walking;
- High standards of air quality;
- Investment in the design quality of public and landmark buildings;
- The involvement of citizens in plans to improve amenities, both on a city-wide and neighbourhood basis;
- The centrality of the city-region concept to the regeneration of hinterlands, such as the South Wales Valleys.
During the debate, Mr Melding will call on the Welsh Government to tackle Wales’ housing crisis, and respond to growing demand for affordable housing.
AMs will also stress the need to embrace new travel technologies and invest in the future of travel, and call for the modernisation of Cardiff’s infrastructure to entice new businesses to the capital.
Mr Melding said:
“Cities are enjoying a renaissance all over the world, and one trend that is particularly notable is the popularity of small and medium sized cities. Here in Wales, Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham have great potential as engines for economic and social renewal.
“Cardiff, in particular, has been reinvented over the last twenty years and is widely heralded for its culture, architecture and public spaces. Yet as the city has become more desirable, demand for property has increased – posing challenges for planners as the population continues to expand.
“Cities are a key driver for economic resilience and prosperity, and right across the UK we are witnessing the importance of developing a robust and innovative ‘City Strategy’.
“The city deals and the South Wales Metro mean that Wales is set to benefit substantially from this trend, but we should not forget that competition is also a factor when it comes to attracting investment and people with high level skills.
“As such, Wales needs to drive its vision even further by marketing effectively, responding to current demand for family housing and the desire for a quality environment and leisure opportunities.
“Above all, comprehensive regeneration plans need to be put into action if Wales is to cope with demographic changes and urban poverty in its city regions.”