Welsh government and Principality Building Sociey launch £100m plan

Plans to build around 700 homes on the site of a former paper mill in Cardiff have been unveiled.

The Welsh Assembly government and Principality Building Society is setting up a not-for-profit company to develop the 53-acre Ely Bridge site, in a move expected to create some 200 construction jobs a year over five years.

If Cardiff council approves the plans from Ely Bridge Development Company, construction on the mix of housing - at least half of which is expected to be “affordable” - could begin as soon as October.

David Ward, head of planning and urban design at consultancy firm Arup, has been appointed as the development company’s interim chief executive.

He said the project was “truly innovative” and would put Wales “at the cutting edge of housing delivery”.

“Good quality, well managed, affordable housing is a key component of our economy’s infrastructure, providing direct jobs through construction and the conditions for stable labour markets that are so critical in supporting growth,” he said.

Principality Group chief executive Peter Griffiths said the project’s success could pave the way for delivery for similar “institutional rental” models to be replicated elsewhere in Wales.

The current plans involve a £6m loan from the Welsh government and a conditional land purchase agreement to secure the site.

Principality said the development’s model would see the affordable housing units sold to an investment company in 100-unit tranches up to the completion of the development.

The affordable housing will be managed by an experienced community based housing association, while the scheme’s open-market homes will be delivered through the sale of serviced development sites to housebuilders.

It said the Ely Bridge model was “fundamentally different to the traditional UK house-building model” and meant affordable housing underpinned the development financing, giving access to funding on a scale not readily available in the current market.