Local Assembly Member for Monmouth, Nick Ramsay, questioned the Housing Minister, Julie James AM, on the issue of sustainable housing in the Assembly Chamber last week.
Nick said: “I think that, in the area of zero-carbon homes, Wales really can make a lead in this area if we want to. Minister, the innovative housing fund has enabled Monmouthshire Housing Association to carry on their excellent work, developing two innovative housing sites in Chepstow, working in partnership with the Welsh School of Architecture, and this comes after a previous project in my constituency in Abergavenny.
“Monmouthshire Housing Association's latest development will provide flexible, sustainable living for downsizers and first-time occupiers. This housing association I've mentioned has a track record of providing sustainable innovative housing. How are you ensuring, where good practice carried out by this housing association is happening in one part of Wales, that that good practice is being harnessed? And, as it is a product of the fund that you are providing for housing associations and councils across Wales, how are you spreading that across Wales to make sure that people from all parts of Wales can benefit from it? “
Julie James AM responded: “Yes, there are several good projects. I visited the step-down project only very recently and spoke to a gentleman living there who was extremely enthusiastic about all of the benefits of having gone into a much more sustainable house, including the community around him. So, it's important to remember that these are people's homes. It's not just about the fabric of the building; it's about the community around them as well. So, I concur it was a really good interesting project. It's putting a smile on my face just remembering the conversations that we had there.
“What we're doing, as a result of the affordable housing review, is we're looking at the way that we use social housing grants in Wales to drive various outcomes, one of which is long-term sustainable near zero-carbon housing, and what we can do to use our levers in order to assist housing associations to build the kinds of houses that we want for the future. The whole point of the innovative housing programme is to de-risk some of the more innovative models to see if they work, and then, if they do work, to scale them up.
“So, in this next tranche of innovative housing, we're looking to see if we can scale some of the successes. So, the programmes you have spoken of there are relatively small builds. What we want to see now is if we can do that on a 175-site or whatever. So, the next stage is to scale it up one more leg and then to see if we can scale it up altogether, and there'll be more than one model for that. Several of them have worked out really well. So, that's the next tranche of our programme.”