SOME 500 new homes could be coming to Abergavenny after a development plan won the backing of councillors.
An agricultural field between the A465 and the Skirrid Fach was identified as a ‘preferred strategic site’ for development last year in the latest incarnation of the local development plan which sets out where new housing should be built in Monmouthshire by 2033.
Opposition councillors however have questioned if the Labour-led administration’s policy of 50 per cent of all new houses in Monmouthshire being affordable can be achieved, and whether that will mean there is less money for new projects from developers.
Usk Conservative Tony Kear asked whether the council could gain funding to develop homes on that basis and Green Party cabinet member Cllr Ian Chandler responded calling opposition speeches “inconsistent.”
Tony Kear said he had worked in corporate banking financing housing developers and questioned whether they will gain funding to develop homes on that basis.
Cllr Ian Chandler (pictured) said: “They want affordable housing but say ‘It’s not what the developers want, it’s not what the bankers want, they do not want us to build affordable housing.”
Cllr Kear responded “that’s not what I said” but Cllr Chandler continued: “This plan has affordable housing at its heart and centre. We have a problem with homelessness in this county. Monmouthshire families need homes and do not have them at the moment they are living in spare rooms or having to leave the county.”
Changes in the latest version of the plan before a draft is produced next year include Leasbrook, off Dixton Road, being a preferred site for some 270 homes in Monmouth – as planned improvements to the waste water treatment works mean a block on new housing in the town can be lifted.
That will also allow 301 homes that had been planned for in the current local development plan for Monmouth at Drewen Farm, two sites at Rockfield Road and Tudor Road, Wyesham to be potentially developed.
They would form some of the 4,085 in a land bank which have either already been given permission, have been built or are under construction and smaller sites and ‘windfall’ sites meaning the plan has to find land for approximately 1,660 to 2,125 new homes, of which 830 to 1,065 would be affordable homes.
The range from 1,600 to 2,100 allows for a flexibility rate of up to 15 per cent.
Llanelly Hill independent Simon Howarth said Section 106 – the legal agreements by which developers pay for community improvements – “keep our communities viable” but he questioned if the funds, that are dependent on the profitability of housing developments, would still be available and said: “We have to have a balance here.”
He also said the plan hasn’t considered exception sites – outside normal development boundaries – which could allow housing associations to build more homes.
The council agreed by 23 votes to 22 to endorse the latest updates to the plan. A deposit, or draft version, will now be drawn up which the public will be consulted on next spring before the council is asked to agree to submit it to the Welsh Government. It will then be examined by an independent inspector and could become the county’s official planning policy in 2025.