Why Cwmbran?

Why Cwmbran?

Following the passing of the New Town Act in 1946 various committees were set up by the Ministry to investigate whether the use of the Act was applicable in Wales. It would be politically expedient to designate an area, but relocating the population from large overcrowded city areas, which was one of the main aims of the act, was not applicable in Wales. Aycliffe and Peterlee in England and Glenrothes in Scotland had however, been designated as New Towns in 1947-48, to provide housing for works in existing industries in their area. Investigation of possible sites in Wales concentrated on this approach, and County Councils were asked to nominate sites.

The Ministry of Housing and Local Government in 1948 was in favour of designating two New Towns in Wales. Church Village, located north of Cardiff, to provide housing for the large industrial development building in the pre-war period at Treforest, and Cwmbran, to provide houses not only for workers in the Town, and living elsewhere, but also those who were to be employed at the large British Nylon factory under construction, 3 miles (4.8 km) away at Pontypool.

Late in the day Church Village was abandoned, as the area contained rich coal seams and the Ministry of Power refused to give approval for the area to be developed. Cwmbran had approval to go ahead in November 1949 and Minoprio, Spenceley & Macfarlane who had prepared the Master Plan for Crawley New Town in 1947, were appointed to prepare what became the master plan.

During the 1950's the Corporation carried out its designated task of building houses for the working population, although a very limited amount of additional employment was provided in the distributive trades in factories built by the Corporation. In November 1958 however, the Government announced the building of a large new steel works on the outskirts of Newport, six miles (9.6 km) from the largest steel works in Europe with a planned workforce of over 11,000. Additional housing was therefore urgently required within the area and as Newport was unable, because of their large housing waiting list, to satisfy this need, the Ministry looked to Cwmbran. In June 1961, when Spencer Works was nearing completion, Cwmbran was informed by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government that they could continue active until the population reached 45,000. This increase in population also resulted in approval being given for the Corporation to build factories, and, in 1964 it at last started to operate like other New Towns - building a balanced community by providing factories, as well as housing, shops, etc.

A White Paper, Wales: The Way Ahead was presented and approved by Parliament in July 1967. This White Paper was the first occasion for the Government to bring together all the issues which affected the economic, social, and cultural background of life in Wales. Among its many recommendations were two which were specific to New Towns.

In South Wales the "White Paper" accepted that, due to the geological structure, with narrow valleys radiating from a coastal belt, the most favourable locations for major industrial growth was in this coastal belt and the valleys mouths. It considered Llantrisant, some ten miles (16 km) north west of Cardiff satisfied this requirement. It was equally well placed in relation to the largest concentration of valley population, to Cardiff and the coast. The area had ample land, suitable for large scale development and substantial industrial development had already commenced in the area. The Government had also decided, that the Royal Mint should be relocated there. The White Paper announced that consultants had been appointed to advise on the desirable future scale, its timing, layout, cost and organisation, of urban growth in the Llantrisant area and its neighbourhood.

In Mid Wales the White Paper was looking to the New Towns Act to achieve urban regeneration, but this will be explained in the Mid Wales section of this overview.


  1. 'MINOPRIO, ANTHONY' Crawley Outline Plan 1947, Crawley
  2. 'SELF-CONTAINED COMMUNITY' Also referred to as 'Balanced Community'. A term applied to new towns within which all of the facilities to sustain life and community existence, such as housing, employment, shopping, recreation, leisure, health, education and cultural facilities, were provided. Today the term can be translated to sustainable community.
  3. 'HMSO' Wales: The Way AheadLondon, 1967 (Cmnd 3334)(extracts included on this site)