Huw Lewis, Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage
I would like to update Members on my policy review of approaches to regeneration, and in particular to draw your attention to the publication today of ‘Vibrant & Viable Places: A New Regeneration Framework’ for consultation.
Our regeneration policies encompass a range of integrated activities that aim to reverse economic, social and physical decline in order to achieve lasting improvement, in areas where market forces will not be sufficient to achieve this without some support from government.
My regeneration portfolio contributes to all of our Programme for Government objectives. And as a Cabinet, we all recognise the potential for targeted regeneration programmes to deliver against this broad range of Programme for Government outcomes, and acknowledge that successful regeneration depends upon the alignment of mainstream programmes across portfolios.
Earlier this year I instigated a policy review of our approaches to regeneration. The review was led by my officials, and I am grateful too for the assistance from my colleagues’ Departments, the Centre for Regeneration Excellence Wales, the National Regeneration Panel and the specialist consultants who carried out some independent evaluation of our work in this area. We have also benefited from the work undertaken by the Assembly’s Enterprise and Business Committee during their inquiry on town centre regeneration.
Our vision is that everybody in Wales should live in a vibrant, viable and sustainable community with a strong local economy. As we pursue that vision I am acutely aware of the unprecedented economic circumstances in which we now find ourselves. Budget constraints across the public sector and beyond, combined with the changing roles of town centres in the way people access retail and other services, present major challenges in terms of the way we have pursued regeneration in Wales to date. It will be essential that our proposals for change should reflect these new challenges as well as providing an effective means of addressing them in communities around Wales.
Regeneration is about transforming underperforming places and ensuring economic growth which is inclusive, sustainable and focussed. The scale of that challenge underlines the need for us to work collectively across Government and in collaboration with the public and third sectors and with the private sector to support innovation and share good practice.
Three key messages came out strongly from the review:
- Strengthened governance is needed to improve delivery. In particular, there is an opportunity to drive regional collaboration in a more structured way, including effective spatial planning for regeneration.
- Partnership is critical. Sustainable regeneration can only be delivered through genuine engagement with communities, local authorities and other public sector organisations, the third sector as well as with the private sector.
- The Regeneration Areas approach is transforming some of our most disadvantaged places, but there are still opportunities to improve the way we invest at local level.
The consultation document I am publishing today describes our proposals for addressing these issues. The document sets out a vision, definition and national outcomes for regeneration, which reinforce the breadth of activity which needs to be considered and the need for partnership across Government and beyond.
Our consultation proposals include:
- New national outcomes.
- A people and place based approach which is well evidenced and evaluated.
- A strengthened national, regional and local delivery structure.
- A renewed commitment to cross-portfolio working within Government.
- Ideas on how to direct targeted investment.
I believe that together with our partners, we can deliver even more despite our limited resources. I look forward to working with partners from across all sectors and all parts of Wales to achieve this. The first step is making sure we have a robust framework for collaboration and delivery, agreed by all partners. That’s why I am undertaking this consultation process.
A Government Plenary debate will be held on 6 November so that we can discuss the proposals in detail. Meanwhile, I hope that you will participate in the consultation process and that you will encourage stakeholders in your constituencies to do so too.