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SDC Wales brings together experts to discuss sustainable places and infrastructure

14 January 2011

The Commission brought together a range of representatives from Welsh organisations at two further ‘roundtable’ events, to inform the Commission’s advice to the Assembly Government.

Foundations for the future roundtable‘Foundations for the future: Wales’ critical infrastructure needs’ was held at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay on 23 November 2010 and was hosted by the SDC’s Business Commissioner, Stewart Davies. 21 people took part, including business, public and third sector representatives plus officials from the Assembly Government.

The main points raised by participants included: 

  • Collaboration between government, business, academia and other sectors should be increased, with economic benefits among the potential rewards. 
  • Infrastructure planning should take a broader, more integrated approach, based on full consideration of what we want it to deliver in terms of social, environmental and economic outputs and a closer link between spatial and land use planning. 
  • Current action is not radical enough to meet the demands of the challenges ahead, for example on carbon reduction targets. 
  • Infrastructure planning should be linked with behaviour change, with a shift away from ‘predict and provide’ to ‘provide and promote’. 
  • We need a focussed, tangible infrastructure plan which avoids over-complication. 
  • We also need to look alternatives to building new infrastructure as solutions, as well as building new infrastructure. In some cases it will be necessary to alter or removing existing structures, or facilitate more sustainable behaviour among service users.

The Commission also held a joint roundtable event, ‘Creating sustainable places’, with the Design Commission for Wales on 7 December 2010.

Sustainable places roundtableThe event examined how sustainable development and good design can be placed at the heart of creating and regenerating communities in Wales at a time of austerity. Issues raised included the opportunities as well as the challenges of working with finite resources and within environmental limits; Town centre regeneration and the perception of ‘clone towns’, the complexities of public engagement, the relationship between the public and private sectors and the perceived gaps between policy and delivery.

Commenting on the two events, SDC Commissioner for Wales, Peter Davies said:

“We have a long way to go in making Welsh communities better places to live and ensuring that our basic services such as water supplies, energy and transport are fit for the future. The Assembly Government has a central role in addressing these challenges and now has to do so with much less money to spend. As the government’s official advisor on sustainable development we must do what we can to support smart, joined up solutions. These roundtable sessions are part of ensuring that our advice is well informed by a wide range of Welsh organisations and wider expertise. To that end this roundtable was hosted by the Design Commission for Wales, as the expert body advising government and cross-sector partners on a high quality, sustainable built environment. I am grateful for their support and delighted to work with them on this agenda.”

The SDC will now draw on the findings of the two sessions in producing constructive advice to the Welsh Assembly Government.

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