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Developing places which enrich people’s lives is at the heart of Wales’ new planning policy, which will today be launched by Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths.

First published:
5 December 2018
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

Launching the Planning Policy Wales, the Cabinet Secretary has called on planners and developers to think first and foremost about the people who will live there and how they will go about their everyday lives.

The refreshed Planning Policy Wales, which will underpin all future planning decisions, will put an emphasis on people and places and ensure developments built today leave a legacy of well-designed, sustainable places which improve lives.

The new policy has a firm focus on ‘placemaking’ – an approach to development which ensures communities have all the services they need within easy reach and development is of high quality. Wales will be the only country in the UK to take this approach to planning.

Other key changes to Wales’ planning policy which are designed to help Wales lower its carbon emissions at the same time as creating places people can live well, include:

  • Promotion of Active Travel (walking and cycling) to create good places and support health and well-being.  Services will need to be easily accessible by active travel and a new transport hierarchy is being introduced for planners to consider;
  • A new policy on Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs) which requires new non-residential developments to have charging points in at least 10% of the spaces available. This is the first national policy of its kind in the UK; 
  • Promoting renewable energy developments (wind, solar and other renewables). It will require planning authorities to define areas where wind and solar developments will be permitted and set renewable energy targets;
  • Restricting extraction and use of fossil fuels (including fracking) by placing them at the bottom of the energy hierarchy. It states proposals for opencast or deep-mine development should not be permitted and oil and gas (including fracking) should be avoided.  It will be supported by a new Notification Direction which will state the Welsh Government must be notified of any planning applications which local planning authorities intend to approve for new coal and petroleum developments; and
  • The agent of change principle has been incorporated into national planning policy and will require that a business or person responsible for introducing a change is responsible for managing that change. For example, a developer constructing new homes near an existing music venue will be responsible for ensuring that appropriate mitigation is put in place so that the noise generating use is not curtailed in the future by complaints from the new residents. This is the first policy document in the UK to introduce the concepts of soundscapes in protecting the acoustic environment. 
  • Planning Policy Wales draws heavily on the landmark Well-being of Future Generation’s (Wales) Act 2015, which requires public bodies to take sustainable development into account when making their decisions.  The new policy has been developed working closely with the office of the Future Generations Commissioner, Sophie Howe.

Earlier this week, the Cabinet Secretary visited the Tramshed in Grangetown, Cardiff, which is a good example of a mixed-use place which Planning Policy Wales is encouraging.

The Cabinet Secretary said:  

“It is essential developments built today, which will last for many years, have a legacy of well-designed, sustainable places which will improve the lives of all.  

“Our new version of Planning Policy Wales is all about ensuring future developments have a lasting impact and enrich people’s lives.

“I want to make sure when planners and developers are formulating their plans and schemes, they think first and foremost about the people who will live there and how they will go about their everyday lives – something which doesn’t always happen. This involves thinking about environmental, social, cultural as well as economic needs, including the impact on both mental and physical health, caused by new developments.

“The new Planning Policy Wales will ensure we have well-designed spaces which will benefit future generations.”