Housing equals infrastructure: a step forward
Matt Kennedy looks at the outcomes of the Welsh Assembly's economy infrastructure and skills committee, with a close eye on housing's status as a part of national infrastructure.
Ahead of the Welsh Assembly election last year, one of CIH Cymru’s main calls set out in our Agenda for Change was for all political parties to commit to ensuring that, in its largest sense, housing is recognised as a vital part of national infrastructure. On a par with, for example, transport and communication.
It remains vitally important that any discussion around infrastructure investment, whether it be large-scale energy projects, or enhancing transportation links, be suitably linked with investment in and the planning of homes.
This month The Welsh Assembly’s economy, infrastructure and skills committee reported following their inquiry into the development of a National Infrastructure Committee for Wales (NICfW). The housing sector as a whole, can take heart from the fact that the committee’s first recommendation was focussed on widening the remit of the new commission to include housing.
Further to this, the committee, in considering the proposals put forward on the make-up of the commission, took a different view from that of the Welsh Government, noting that they felt the commission should be established on a statutory basis. Going on to highlight that although capacity of a NICfW needs further consideration, its remit should be expanded to include “the supply of land for strategically significant housing developments and related supporting infrastructure alongside the economic and environmental infrastructure.”
The committee highlighted contributions received on these plans form a number of stakeholders. The North Wales Economic Ambition Board emphasised that investment plans needed to be holistic, recognising that housing and land is as important as transport and drainage infrastructure when it comes to increased wellbeing and quality of life. The Home Builders Federation further emphasised a need for housing to be included in the remit of the commission and that the commission could have a role looking at major new housing projects – adding value to the strategic viewpoints provided by local authorities.
In conclusion the committee reflected that including all elements of social infrastructure was not an attractive prospect, but encouragingly did report that the case around land supply for housing developments was compelling.
This report represents a big step in the right direction in highlighting that housing is infrastructure. More than this, the evidence submitted and the committee’s reflections further reinforce the inter-reliance between housing and other vital pieces of the national infrastructure jigsaw.