Wales needs to have substantially more affordable housing otherwise an entire generation will miss out on the reasonable expectation of having a decent home. Plaid Cymru believes that the supply of more affordable housing should be met through a combination of bringing empty properties back into use, and new developments of mixed housing in the social and private sectors. However, we also want local needs and environmental sustainability to be taken into account.
The Party of Wale will create a National Housing Company which will borrow against rents to build a new generation of public rental housing in Wales limited in number only by demand. We will also support Local Authorities wishing to build new Council Housing.
Local Authorities will be expected to agree targets for supplying affordable housing, including new social housing, with the Welsh Government, but will be given the flexibility to decide how they would achieve this based upon the needs of their area. Local Authorities will be able to develop joint plans with neighbouring local authorities, or work through housing associations or the National Housing Company, if they believed this was the best way to meet the needs of their areas.
A Plaid Cymru government will fund the development of new homes in small-scale housing developments in rural Wales on ‘exception sites’, whose land plots, not covered by general planning permission, will be capped at an affordable price designed to benefit those in local housing need with family and work ties to the area, and whose sale will be conditional on these houses continuing in local ownership in perpetuity.
Plaid Cymru has consistently opposed the Right to Buy scheme and we will take action to ensure the social housing stock remains intact in order to meet the demand for homes. We need to introduce a more rigorous system in the allocation of social housing to give priority to those in local housing need. And to support the release of public land as self-build plots for affordable homes, to buy and to lease, and allow housing associations to build their own high-quality prefabricated homes as the Accord Housing Association successfully does in Walsall.
Historically our communities have been ill-served by the planning system, by our local authorities (via the flawed system of Unitary Development Plans) and more recently by the Labour in Wales Welsh Government in Cardiff. With increasing pressure from over development community cohesion is under threat, along with increased demand on overstretched local amenities, our NHS and our green spaces.
Perhaps before constructing large numbers of new houses which fail to tackle local housing needs we should take a long hard look at the number of empty properties – something that remains largely unaddressed in many of our communities. We need a planning system that takes account of local housing needs, the environment (and seeks to create protected green belt land around and within our large and small urban communities) and also looks sustainability at the whole of Wales – and we will only get it with a Plaid Cymru government in Cardiff Bay.