Julie James MS, Minister for Housing and Local Government
I attended the British-Irish Council Joint Ministerial meeting of the Collaborative Spatial Planning (CSP) & Housing work sectors on the 25 February 2021. The meeting was held via a virtual format, hosted by the Northern Ireland Executive.
As the Minister with responsibility for planning and housing, I represented the Welsh Government. The meeting was jointly chaired by Nichola Mallon MLA, Minister for Infrastructure, and Deirdre Hargey MLA, Minister for Communities, from the Northern Ireland Executive. The Northern Ireland Executive was also represented by Junior Minister Gary Middleton MLA. The Government of Guernsey was represented by Deputy Victoria Oliver, President of the Development and Planning Authority. The Government of Ireland was represented Mr Darragh O’Brien T.D, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and Mr Peter Burke T.D, Minister of State for Local Government and Planning. The Isle of Man Government was represented by Hon Tim Baker MHK, Minister for Infrastructure, and Hon Ray Harmer MHK, Minister for Policy and Reform. The Government of Jersey was represented by Deputy John Young, Minister for the Environment, and Deputy Russell Labey, Minister for Housing and Communities. The Scottish Government was represented by Mr Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning. The UK Government was represented by Rt Hon Christopher Pincher MP, Minister of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
At the meeting, we considered and reflected on the papers from each of the work sectors, which included a discussion on challenges and opportunities for the housing and planning sectors. We also endorsed a joint publication prepared by the CSP and Housing work sectors on key spatial planning and housing challenges associated with an ageing population entitled “Creating an Inclusive Future Vision for our Ageing Populations”.
I specifically noted the positive work undertaken by the Member Administrations on all the Housing and Spatial planning papers presented. I outlined the Welsh Government has a long standing commitment to provide good quality, affordable housing, recognising its importance as the bedrock of good communities. As we emerge from Covid-19 this commitment is more important than ever and increasing the supply of housing for all members of our society, including the ageing population, is of paramount importance.
I also stressed that many of the issues and challenges which have been identified cannot be resolved in isolation. As we come out of the current Covid-19 crisis, our continued collaboration is vital and will allow us to learn from shared experiences.
We also considered the content of the forward work plans for both the CSP and Housing work sectors, which identify the areas of focus for the next 3 years, these were noted and agreed. The areas of focus for the CSP work sector are:
- The Contribution of Spatial Planning to ‘Building Better Places’ in the context of the Covid recovery;
- The Contribution of Spatial Planning to the revitalisation of towns;
- Best practice in National/Regional Planning Frameworks ; and
- Promotion of expert learning and experience sharing.
The areas of focus for the Housing work sector are:
- The challenge of climate change and associated design issues;
- Provision of suitable affordable Housing; and
- Aspects of Housing’s role in Health and Social Care.
Each Member Administration actively contributed to these valuable and important discussions. A joint Communiqué was issued after the meeting:
It was agreed that the next Ministerial meeting for each of the two work sectors would take place in 2023.