Supplementary memorandum by Torfaen County
Borough Council (NT 29(a))
1. The original objective of the new town
was to provide housing close to industry located on the flat land
provided by Cwmbran under the Special Areas Act (1934) and Distribution
of Industry Act (1945). By 1976, 8,100 dwellings were built and
by 1988 10,500. With the depression of the late 1970's Cwmbran
Development Corporation changed its focus on development from
housing to industry. More than 5,400 jobs were created by Cwmbran
Development Corporation of which 30 per cent were provided since
2. In terms of the two key objectives of
the new town, provision of housing (1950-1986) and the focus of
job provision (1974-1986), the Development Corporation were successful.
It is only now 50 years on from designation that problems are
surfacing, as follows:
(i) Simultaneous ageing of property in particular
housing and local shopping areas.
(ii) The upkeep of large areas of green
(iii) High levels of deprivation focussed
in two of the western wards of the town.
(iv) Lack of car parking facilities in the
earlier build residential areas.
(v) Primary transport network in the town
principally design for the car.
(vi) Design "defects" in "experimental"
housing areas, leading to:
(b) Poor access arrangements for cars, pedestrians
and public transport.
3. Cwmbran's role in the south east Wales
region will remain, as it is at present, a key location for industrial,
commercial and retail activities and as a popular place to live.
4. The original master plan has been superseded
by the Torfaen Local Plan (adopted 2000). Many of the guiding
principles of the original master plan are reflected in the Local
Plan, for example the Central Recreation Area and the disposition
of industrial, residential and retail uses.
5. Cwmbran New Town was built around the villages
of Old Cwmbran, Pontnewynydd, Croesyceiliog and Henllys. These
original settlements are now well integrated and largely have
not imposed constraints or given rise to implications for the
growth of the town.
6. Originally the designated population
for Cwmbran was 35,000. This was increased to 55,000 in 1958.
Cwmbran's current population is 48,000 (1991 Census) although
indicators are that the population is higher (see 7).
7. Cwmbran New Town, located in the south
of Torfaen County Borough has been a focal point for growth since
its designation as a new town in 1949. The early and mid years
of its evolution witnessed major housing developments and growth
in population. At the time of the 1991 Census, Cwmbran had a population
totalling 47,762 living in 18,346 households. According to the
Council Tax register, there are now 20,606 households accommodating
an estimated 52,000 people.
The only detailed population figures available
relating to the Cwmbran Urban Area are derived from the 1991 Census.
The figures suggest that the town has a relatively young population
with 42 per cent of the population under 30 years of age compared
to the Welsh average of 40 per cent and a UK (excluding Northern
Ireland) average of 41 per cent. The newer areas situated in the
south-west of the town house a younger population than the town
as a whole with 50 per cent of the population in this area aged
below 30. The relatively young population profile of Cwmbran
is characteristic of new towns throughout the United Kingdom e.g.
Milton Keynes, Bracknell and Stevenage.
The incidence of "pocketed" deprivation
is also particularly characteristic of New TownsCwmbran
is not an exception. Of the 12 wards which make up Cwmbran New
Town two lie within the top quartile of the most deprived wards
in Wales. St Dials and Upper Cwmbran ranking 176 and 163 respectively
out of a total of 865 wards in Wales in terms of the composite
index of multiple deprivation. Agencies operating specifically
within the south-west area of Cwmbran are aware of the age profile
of the population and target the services they provide accordingly.
Services provided include, enhanced early years and childcare
provision, family support, adult education classes and opportunities
for up-skilling and re-training for young people, lone parents
and parents who stay at home to look after children.
8. There is a strong demand for all commercial
development especially retail in the town centre area. Demand
is less strong in the town's hinterland. The town itself is constrained
in terms of further development due to the town's design and cost
of site assembly.
9. Local Government Reorganisation in Wales
(1995) created 22 Unitary Authorities of which Torfaen is one.
Regional planning arrangements are at present collaborative rather
than statutory. Although strong links have been formed between
the 10 Unitary Authorities and the Brecon Beacons National Park
through the South East Wales Strategic Planning Group. The collaborative
nature of the arrangements has created difficulties in terms of
addressing key contentious regional issues. The National Assembly
for Wales is currently preparing the Wales Spatial Plan which
may form the basis for stronger regional planning.
10. Cwmbran Shopping Centre has been extremely
successful given its planned nature, fully pedestrianised precincts
and free car parking. Its growth was detrimental to other shopping
centres in the County Borough in particular Pontypool and Blaenavon
where retail bases have declined as Cwmbran grew. Although not
fulfilling a Sub-Regional role, Cwmbran's status is close to this.
The north west quadrant of the town centre has recently been redeveloped
to create a new Asda store, Woolworth and three unit shops. The
former Asda building is currently vacant but is programmed for
refurbishment to create seven unit shops.
Although successful the town centre lacks the
public presence (Council/Government offices etc) and "night-life"
exhibited by "normal" towns.
The town centre is largely in one ownership
(Prudential) and lacks the competition varied ownership would
give. The tight inner ring of roads and proximity of housing inhibits
growth of the town centre. This has led to pressure for edge of
town, out of town development.
11. A recent example is illustrated by a
ransom strip (comprising of Community Related Asset) land essential
to enabling access to a former social services building. This
building had fallen into disrepair and was causing problems to
the local community due to vandalism. One local resident was severely
injured attempting to intervene to stop such activity.
Negotiation of the ransom strip's value with
EP certainly extended the process of creating a package for sale
to allow redevelopment of the site for housing.
The loss in terms of capital receipt to the
Council amounted to £170,000 (current estimate). It was only
at the end of the negotiation period that EP offered to ring fence
the receipt for 18 months to allow it to be recycled into a regeneration
project for Cwmbran. Although further correspondence from EP casts
considerable doubt whether this receipt will be ring fenced to
This illustrated two points:
EP/CNT Clawback negotiation can increase
considerably the time taken to bring projects forward.
There is no clear policy relating
to recycling clawback for regeneration. The decision to ring fence
the monies in the above instance came after considerable pressure
from the Council but did not appear to stem from a strategic view
of Cwmbran's needs nor could it be related to experience in other
Furthermore as the need to promote regeneration
of the older areas of the town gathers pace the existence of CRA
land interspersed with other land will not only slow down potential
projects but also restrict the Council's ability to reinvest receipts
arising from land sale (also see answer under 17).
13. This is extremely difficult to quantify,
however, independent condition surveys of the Council's retail
shopping are currently being undertaken.
14. English Partnerships currently hold
70 per cent clawback in assets valued at £1,618,750 (74 shops
value as at 1 April 1998).
15. English Partnerships have not participated
in a specific and systematic way in the regeneration of Cwmbran.
16. The special circumstances of new towns
are not recognised in terms of either SSA or the General Capital
Funding formula in particular the housing and regeneration blocks.
Torfaen, along with other members of the New Towns Group have
commissioned research into these issues. It is hoped this will
be available shortly. (NB Cwmbran's circumstance as Wales' only
new town creates a different situation to that in England since
the inception of the Welsh Assembly).
17. Given Cwmbran is now 50 years old there
is a need to consider redevelopment of certain areas of the town.
The fragmented and dispersed pattern of CNT/EP interest in land
with potential for development makes the task more difficult.
In particular the lack of full receipt retention on sale of CNT/EP
does not encourage regeneration projects and lessens political
will to promote innovative projects. As illustrated under question
11 the speed of projects can be decreased due to the lengthy negotiations
18. The key issues in Cwmbran in terms of
housing are as follows:
Simultaneous ageing of stock.
Areas of standard built housing suffering
from similar problems (eg mono pitched roofs leading to water
Lack of provision in designs of houses
to allow for their extension/adaption and/or the accommodation
19. The original design of Cwmbran New Town
and subsequent developments within the town built in the early
1970s have undoubtedly led to problems with crime. Poorly designed
and badly lit residential and shopping areas have led to perceived
unsafe or "no-go" areas, attract anti-social behaviour,
provide areas for alcohol and substance misuse, criminal damage
Designing out crime has been a paramount consideration
in relation to any new development proposed within the Town. More
importantly initiatives that have been implemented to tackle crime
and disorder within Cwmbran include the following:
(i) "Safe and secure" projects
provided by Age Concern and Victim Support which are funded largely
by the National lottery.
(ii) Vehicle arson and abandoned vehicle
project funded by the local authority and the police authority.
(iii) Community mediation projects funded
by the police and voluntary organisations; local environmental
projects to address perceived "no-go" areas.
(iv) Joint action with the police and health
authority to reduce and prevent drug and alcohol abuse.
(v) "Safe Routes to School" project.
(vi) Environmental projects involving the
(vii) Various youth projectsincluding
initiatives to maintain the education of excluded children.
Possible funding sources include:
The National LotteryNew Opportunities
Recovered Assets FundPolice
CCTV FundingHome Office.
European Regional Development Funding
Local Regeneration Fund.
The Council is pursuing all of these sources
Safe Routes to School
Shared Cycle/Footway aimed early on at Secondary
Schools (TG funded).
Travel Plan Co-ordinator engaged on a "Gwent"
wide basis to contact businesses with approximately 100 employees
and Secondary schools to assist in getting travel plans up and
runningLiaison with Education and Social Services.
Study presently ongoing at Cwmbran Station into
interchange (TG Funded).
Improvements in Main Bus Corridor
Transport Grant funded to improve the waiting
environment, safety security accessibility particularly for mobility
Free travel local bus services within Wales.
Community Transport Group
Voluntary group provides approximately 22,000
journeys (+ shop mobility facilities in Cwmbran) and reviews grants
from the Council. Provides services to those because of frailty
or disability would be unable to use public transport.
Safe Route to School
These are promoted (see 20) and a National Cycle
Route (42) passes through Cwmbran.