David Melding’s love letter to the Valleys terrace

(Title Image: WWF Blog)

Aside from some of the things he said in and around the debate on the (now defunct) Continuity Bill when David Melding says something it’s usually worth paying attention to. In a short debate yesterday, he spoke about the past, present and future of one of the iconic pieces of architecture in south Wales – the humble Valleys terraced house.

Proponent: David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central)
Subject: Valleys housing – A heritage worth investing in


  • The waves of economic migrants to the south Wales Valleys in the 19th Century had to be housed and the ribbon pattern of houses is still “a powerful and evocative image of Wales”.
  • 40% of homes in Wales are terraces and this will only fall to 28% in 2050.
  • This should be celebrated, not treated as a hangover from the industrial era; it meant Wales never had back-to-back slums as the industrial cities in England and it fostered desirable and strong communities.
  • Reuse and retrofitting homes to become more energy efficient saves more carbon than demolition and rebuild; traditional skills needed to maintain terraced homes should be restored.
  • Some examples (Chapel Row, Merthyr Tydfil) are as architecturally important as Royal Crescent in Bath.
  • Hefin David AM (Lab, Caerphilly): If we want to see these kinds of homes built again, the “cartel” of the “Big Four” housebuilders needs to be broken and the need side (building homes and communities in the Valleys) should take greater precedence over the demand side.
  • Suzy Davies AM (Con, South Wales West): We don’t need to build new houses all the time and Help to Buy could be used to restore existing and vacant homes.

Government Response

Minister for Housing & Regeneration, Rebecca Evans (Lab, Gower)

  • All social housing must meet the Welsh Housing Quality Standard by December 2020, with £108million provided to councils annually to fund these improvement works.
  • £104million is being invested in retrofitting old homes to become more energy efficient, which is estimated will help 25,000 people.
  • £10million worth of loans will be provided to property developers to bring old housing stock back into use.
  • Work is being undertaken on a shared equity scheme to enable empty homes at the northern end of the valleys, where there’s little demand for social housing, to be bought and owned.
  • A property development fund as part of the Development Bank has been increased from £10million to £30million to enable smaller and medium-sized housebuilders to build new homes.



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