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Council Plan - Strategic Theme: Place

Strategic Theme: Place

Supporting a sustainable and diverse environment

Wrexham County Borough covers almost 500km2 of North East Wales, bordering Cheshire, Shropshire, Flintshire and Denbighshire. The County Borough is hugely diverse: at its heart is the largest town in North Wales; to the south there is Thomas Telford’s Pontcysyllte viaduct, a World Heritage Site and a monument to Victorian engineering; to the east is one of Britain’s largest raised bogs, home to kingfishers, mute swans, water voles and Wales’ only community of White Faced Darter Dragonflies; to the north is one of Europe’s largest industrial estates, home to businesses such as Kellogg’s and JCB; and to the west are the hills and villages of the beautiful Ceiriog Valley.

We want to make sure that the County Borough remains an attractive and convenient place to live, visit, work and do business in. Through the Local Development Plan we will promote development in appropriate locations, ensuring that there is sufficient land for new homes and businesses, but also protect green spaces, plants and animals that promote biodiversity and make the County Borough beautiful.

Housing can be a powerful driver of local economic activity. In regeneration terms, getting the housing offer right, (including affordable housing) is essential to attracting and retaining a skilled workforce that will in turn encourage inward investment. We continue to make substantial investment in the Council housing stock and work with Registered Social Landlords to provide new affordable homes. The possibility that the Council will start to build new Council houses again after a gap of more than 30 years will provide a further stimulus to the local economy as well as providing much needed homes.

We will continue to take pride in our environment and street scene, invest and improve our transport systems including promoting more sustainable transport options as part of the Active Travel work. Already a strong performer nationally, we will continue to work with residents to sustain and improve our recycling performance. We take pride in our streets and work hard on reducing and removing littering and fly-tipping and will continue to take a proactive stance on this.

Place Well-Being Objectives

PL1 – Promoting good quality homes and regeneration

Decent and accessible homes are vital to all.  The Council is the landlord for 11,214 households across the County Borough, all of which must meet the Wales Housing Quality Standard by 2020.  This has required a capital programme of approximately £228m and the need to borrow £125m.  The private rented sector in Wrexham has grown significantly over the last few years and now accounts for an estimated 14% of the total stock.  This growth is expected to continue and is expected to compete with social/affordable rent as the second most available tenure over the next five to ten years.  The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 aims to improve the standards in this sector, placing a new duty on private landlords and managing/letting agents to register and to become licensed to undertake letting and management.

The Homeless Service provides a safety net for local people who become homeless, but the focus of the service will continue to be on sustaining individuals and families in their homes and tenancies.  Phase 1 of the Affordable Housing Project is complete and has provided over 250 new affordable homes across the County Borough.  For later phases we will continue to work with our partner Registered Social Landlords to facilitate the delivery of more affordable housing by providing further sites across the County Borough, but also through the Council’s Build and Buy Programme, which will see the Council adding new properties to its housing stock.

Our long term vision is to:  be recognised as an organisation that provides more homes, more choice, and better housing services.  Through this, and by supporting a local housing market which provides a range of quality housing options, we will improve the quality of local homes and the strength of local communities.

In the short term, to achieve this we will:

In the medium term to long term, to achieve this we will:

We will monitor the availability of good quality accommodation through:

Outcome Indicator Comparison (Wrexham 2015/16) Wrexham 2016/2017 Target 2017/2018
Service Standard: The number of new units of affordable housing developed 79 60 (Predicted) 40
Sustain: The number of empty properties brought back into use through Council activity 33 33 (Predicted) 33
New: The percentage of private sector rented properties in the County Borough that are registered with RentSmart Wales24 7.6% To be established through the development of the Local Housing Strategy
New: The number of Houses in Multiple Occupation issued with:
  • a) Mandatory Licences
  • b) Additional Licensing scheme Licences
  • a) 40
  • b) 278
New: The percentage of inspected private rented properties with at least one ‘Category 1 hazard’. 8.8%

We will monitor the quality of Council provided homes and services through:

Outcome Indicator Comparison (Wrexham 2015/16) Wrexham 2016/2017 Target 2017/2018
Service Standard: The percentage of all potentially homeless households for whom homelessness was prevented for 6 months 79% 75% 65%
Stretch: The percentage of properties meeting the following elements of Welsh Housing Quality Standard25:
  • a) Up-to-date kitchens
  • b) Up-to-date bathrooms
  • c) Adequately heated
  • d) In a good state of repair
  • 60%
  • 51%
  • 77%
  • 59%
  • 82%
  • 76%
  • 82%
  • 66%
  • 100%
  • 100%
  • 89%
  • 74%

24 Landlords could voluntarily register from 23 November 2015 and compulsory registration came into force 23 November 2016. Given baselines were from 31 March 2016 – before registration became compulsory.

25 Where tenants are offered, but refuse, planned works the property is counted as meeting the WHQS until such time as it becomes void and the property is required to be taken up to the WHQS before being re-let. As such 100% targets will be met even if some tenants refuse the works they are offered.

PL2 – Pride in our environment

The environmental impacts of climate change, the rising cost of electricity and fossil fuels, Government targets and penalties imposed on carbon emissions and the amount of waste sent to landfill, make environmental responsibility a priority for Wrexham. 

We will continue to update and improve our waste services, supporting and encouraging our residents to continue to increase the proportion of their domestic waste which is recycled or composted.  Alongside this we will work with residents to reduce the overall amount of waste that they produce.

We optimise the energy efficiency of our services and our infrastructure, keeping costs and our environmental impact as low as possible, whilst supporting local people to access information on how they can do the same.  We will do this by continuing to invest in renewable energy through our solar farms, successfully delivering new renewable schemes to reduce our energy demands and realise income generating opportunities (e.g. feed-in tariffs, renewable heat incentives).  We are investing in more energy efficient technologies (e.g. increasing our use of LED street lighting) and ask our officers and Members to think about the need to travel and build on the work of the Staff and Member Travel Plan, striving to lead by example.

We also want to keep our County Borough beautiful, whether that means keeping our towns and villages clean or maintaining our green spaces for local people and wildlife.  Through the Tree and Woodland Strategy we are looking to increase the urban tree cover in the County Borough to 20% by 2026.  We will continue to provide streetscene services to support this, but we will also look to discourage people from littering, fly-tipping and other irresponsible activities by taking proactive action.

Our long term vision is to: be recognised as a low carbon, low waste, environmentally responsible organisation that supports local people to play their part.

In the short term, to achieve this we will:

In the medium to long term, to achieve this we will:

We will monitor our success through:

Outcome Indicator Comparison (Wrexham 2015/16) Wrexham 2016/2017 Target 2017/2018
Sustain: National indicator - The percentage of municipal waste reused, recycling or composted 62.18% 64% Stat target – 61% Local target - 65%
Improve: National indicator – percentage of reported fly-tipping incidents cleared within 5 working days 91.96% Reports Summer 2017 Improving trend
Improve: National indicator – percentage of highways inspected of a high or acceptable standard of cleanliness 91.1% Reports Summer 2017 Improving trend
Improve: Reduce business travel undertaken by Wrexham County Borough Council Officers
  • a) Reduce business travel mileage
  • b) Reduce business travel emissions
2,238,110m27 637,408 KgCo2 2,031,990m28 611,385 KgCo2 Improving trend

27 The statutory target is that set by Welsh Government

28 Figures given are for business travel undertaken between March 2014 – February 2015

31 Figures given are for business travel undertaken between March 2015 – February 2016

PL3 – Communities with sustainable, attractive settlements, neighbourhoods, buildings and spaces

The people of Wrexham County Borough come from a rich heritage of diverse communities.  These communities historically sprang up around mineral seams, mines, travel routes, and traditional employment opportunities such as mining and brewing.  As we have looked to protect the County Borough’s green spaces and prioritised the redevelopment of brownfield sites, the villages and towns that exist today still mirror these historic settlements.

We want our communities to function and grow in harmony with each other and to sustain positive relationships that recognise that everyone in Wrexham has a unique blend of qualities, skills, background, heritage and beliefs.

Key indicators of the quality of new development in our towns and villages include objective measures like national standards for sustainable homes and commercial buildings and the amount of development permitted in the open countryside, as well as subjective measures such as public perceptions of new developments once they are built.  We will promote development and uses of land that create employment, regenerate communities and build attractive, safe and accessible places in which to live, while also protecting the environment.   

Our long term vision is to: have identified sufficient land to support the housing, business and retail needs of the County Borough whilst protecting our built and natural heritage.

In the short term, to achieve this we will:

In the medium to long term, to achieve this we will

We will monitor our success through:

Outcome Indicator Comparison (Wrexham 2015/16) Wrexham 2016/2017 Target 2017/2018
Improve: Ensure that the Authority maintains a 5 year supply of deliverable housing land 0 0 5 years land supply (on adoption of the LDP)
Service Standard: Preserve or enhance the Conservation Areas – percentage of applications approved in line with Conservation Area Guidance 100% Reports Q1 100%
Improve: Annual Dwelling Completions (number of new homes required 7750, 2013-2028) 199 2016 / 17 monitoring figures not yet completed (due June 2017) 500

PL4 – Well-connected and sustainable communities

The availability of jobs or the existence of green spaces, shopping and cultural opportunities, mean little, if people cannot access them easily and affordably.  We will seek to ensure that local people have a range of sustainable transport options by lobbying and working with partners to maintain and improve our transport infrastructure and by doing what we can to support local public transport providers.

In the current economic climate, the costs of road construction and maintenance are rapidly increasing whilst our funding is diminishing.  Despite this, we will continue to invest in the County Borough’s roads, working to maintain the highest possible standards with the funding available and prioritising our winter maintenance to ensure that key transport routes are gritted and remain usable.  We have set out our aspirations for rail services and infrastructure in Wrexham and will support opportunities to enhance network capacity, service frequency and destination choice.  However, it is important that these do not come at the expense, or to the detriment of, Wrexham’s local services or those direct and strategic connections to the wider rail network upon which Wrexham’s existing and future economic growth is dependent.  We will also seek to encourage the retention of accessible local public transport in the face of falling national funding, and increased running costs for transport companies.  As we cannot request commercially sensitive data from private bus companies, such as the number of passenger journeys, we will measure the total distance travelled by Commercial Local Bus Services as a good indicator of overall usage and availability and general resilience in the bus network.

Over the past few years accessibility has increasingly become a ‘virtual’ issue, with more and more services being available on-line.  We want these opportunities to be just as accessible to local people and will work to lobby and influence providers to improve the quality of local broadband availability, using local businesses to spearhead demand.  There is a national roll-out programme for improving broadband across Wales and we will continue to push for the County Borough to be a higher priority.

Our long term vision is to: have an accessible, efficient transport network which allows people a choice between transport options which are convenient and sustainable.  

In the short term, to achieve this we will:

In the medium to long term, to achieve this we will

We will monitor our progress through:

Outcome Indicator Comparison (Wrexham 2015/16 end of year) Wrexham 2016/2017 Target 2017/2018
Sustain: Percentage of (A) road network in poor overall condition. 2.3% Reports Summer 2017 Sustain in the top quartile for Wales
Sustain: Percentage of (B) road network in poor overall condition. 2.7% Reports Summer 2017 Sustain in the top quartile for Wales
Sustain: Percentage of (C) road network in poor overall condition. 19.7% Reports Summer 2017 Sustain at current level
Sustain: Percentage of total length of rights of way which are easy to use 70% Reports Summer 2017 70%

We will monitor commercial provision through:

Outcome Indicator Comparison (Wrexham 2015/16 end of year) Wrexham 2016/2017 Target 2017/2018
New: Commercial bus distance travelled New indicator Set Baseline Sustain

Lobby: Number of the County Borough’s 15 exchanges that have been:

  • a) 21st Century Network enabled29
  • b) Fibre to the Cabinet enabled30
  • a) 14
  • b) 6
  • a) 14
  • b) 6
Lobby providers

29 Providing broadband speeds of up to 24Mbps (mega-bytes per second) dependent on distance from the exchange and copper quality

30 Broadband capable of speeds of up to 80 Mbps. Ofcom defines ‘superfast broadband’ as having a speed of no less than 30 Mbps