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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting:  28th March, 2012

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration

 

Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To advise Cabinet of the planned publication by the Welsh Government (WG) on 22nd May, 2012 of the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan and to suggest a response to a request for views on infrastructure priorities.  The announcement of the initial round of Stakeholders involvement is as set out in the leaflet produced and circulated by the WG and is attached at Appendix A.

Recommendations

1.             That Cabinet notes the publication of the engagement leaflet by the Welsh Government on the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan

2.             That Cabinet approves the issuing of this report to the Welsh Government as the basis of a response to the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             So that the publication of the Wales Infrastructure Investment plan be noted.

2.             To allow the Vale of Glamorgan Council to respond to the initial request for comments by the Welsh Government.

Background

2.             Attached at Appendix A is an engagement leaflet produced by the Welsh Government (WG) on the forthcoming Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan (WIIP).  The development of the plan is being led by the Finance Minister Jane Hutt.  The leaflet sets out the aims of the WIIP, stating that it will:

·               identify and promote nationally significant infrastructure relevant across the Welsh Public Sector.

·               Provide a 10 year indication of the Welsh Government's direction of travel and a rolling pipeline of approved investment, (Stating that the pipeline will focus on ministerially approved projects and programmes with a total project value greater than £15 million)

·               Utilise innovative financing approaches.

3.             The engagement leaflet seeks views and comments on a series of questions (as listed).  In view of the short timescales involved, it is recommended that the Council's responses focus on key initiatives and projects that are considered essential for the economic growth of the Vale of Glamorgan and wider region.  It is also recommended that this report forms the Council’s response to the engagement exercise.

Relevant Issues and Options

4.             The WIIP Engagement Leaflet seeks a response to a series of questions, and it is considered that this allows an appropriate opportunity for the Council to make representation on key infrastructure projects that are relevant to the Vale of Glamorgan.

5.             Without doubt, the transport network is a key area, which requires investment, both now and in the future.

6.             An extremely pressing infrastructure issue relates to the future growth and expansion of the Airport.  There is a clear and undisputed need to foster additional routes to improve international connections to and from the Airport, and as a consequence, Cardiff and South Wales.  It is imperative that the WG works in collaboration with the Airport owners to promote the Airport and promoting the development of additional connections and links if the Airport is going to develop as a major economic driver.  Allied to this is the need to deliver improvements in surface access to Barry, the Airport and St Athan from the M4 motorway.  Improvement in road access to Barry and the Airport have been the subject of two separate consultants reports, commissioned by the WG in the last 10 years, with recommendations having been made in respect of improvements in road access.  However, to date, the recommendations have not been implemented and the need for improved connections to the strategic highway network is essential for the future economic prosperity of the Vale of Glamorgan, but specifically the Barry-St Athan corridor.

7.             The requirement to improve road access to and from Barry, the Airport and St Athan to and from the M4 has taken an even greater significance, given the recent policy announcements by, and policy direction of, both Welsh Government and the Vale of Glamorgan Council, noticeably:

(i)           The designation of Barry as a key settlement in the Wales Spatial Plan and the designation of St Athan as one of only three Strategic Opportunity Areas in South East Wales.

(ii)          The designation of land at St Athan and the Airport as an Enterprise Zone, by WG in early 2012.

(iii)         The recognition of the above in the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Deposit Local Development Plan, which allocates land for strategic employment and business development, both at the Airport and in St Athan, with a proposal to provide a new railway spur to provide direct access to the Airport.

(iv)         The granting of planning permission for the Aerospace Business Park in St Athan and the mixed-use scheme for the regeneration of Barry Waterfront adds considerable weight to the need to ensure quick and convenient access to the strategic highway network.

8.             Improvements in road infrastructure must be informed by policy, and ensuring that policy initiatives, such as Strategic Opportunity Areas, Enterprise Zones and strategic development allocations in Development plans are well connected is essential.  It is for this reason that the case for improved road access to Barry, the Airport and St Athan is undisputed.

9.             Alongside the need to improve, invest in and extend the strategic highway network, there is a clear need to enhance the region’s rail network.  The electrification of the Swansea-London Great Western Rail line is a key Sewta priority and the WG must press its business case for the electrification to ensure improved connectivity between South Wales and London.  This is vital if South Wales is to compete with other ‘city regions’ throughout the UK, and it is recognised that work is already underway in considering the ‘way forward’ for the South East Wales ‘city-region’.  Such improvements, when combined with an enhanced strategic highway network will improve the competitiveness of the Vale of Glamorgan and the wider region, as well as assisting in promoting inward investment.

10.        The same is true of the Valley lines network, with a case being made for the development of a ‘metro system’ that would see the valley lines network electrified.  This is particularly important in the Vale of Glamorgan, with the proposal to develop a direct rail link to the Airport and the need to improve and enhance commuter links between Barry and Cardiff.  The need to improve rail links is even more critical given the WG’s recent announcement to reduce the Local Transport Support grant by approximately 27%.

11.        In addition, to investment in transport, the ongoing regeneration work in Barry, through its establishment as a Regeneration Area needs to be acknowledged in the Plan.  In addition, given the work achieved to date and the future development potential of Barry waterfront and Barry island, the Regeneration Area status must be reaffirmed for future years, so that the investment to date can be built upon and extended.  This again recognises the need for policy interventions by WG to be recognised in the delivery of a WIIP.  In the same way, decisions relating to Communities First cluster arrangements need to draw on the synergies with Regeneration and renewal projects such as those already realised and planned for Barry.

12.        These key initiatives will need close integration between transport planning, land use planning and regeneration initiatives, and it is clear that in so far as the Vale of Glamorgan is concerned those synergies already exist.  The WIIP needs to recognise those synergies and build upon them in moving forward

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

13.        The reporting of this matter has been met within the current department budget.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

14.        None arising from this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

15.        None arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

16.        None arising from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

17.        The provision of receiving infrastructure consultants to the regeneration and economic well being of the Vale of Glamorgan.

Policy Framework and Budget

18.        This report is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

19.        As this report relates to matters that are non ward specific no consultation has taken place.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

20.        Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

WIIP Engagement Leaflet.

 

Contact Officer

Rob Thomas - Head of Planning and Transportation - Tel: 01446 704621.

 

Officers Consulted

Head of Legal - Committee Reports

Head of Financial Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Quick - Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration.

 

 

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