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Carl Sargeant, Minister for Housing and Regeneration

First published:
7 February 2014
Last updated:

This was published under the 2011 to 2016 administration of the Welsh Government

The Planning system has a vital role to play in the success of Wales and its economy. I am determined that national planning policy and advice supports economic development and renewal, and helps provide opportunities for jobs and wealth creation needed to secure a more prosperous future for our communities. 

In November 2012 I issued revised policy on economic development in Planning Policy Wales (PPW).  PPW recognises the importance of the whole economy not just the traditional employment land uses, and explains how local planning authorities should take a positive approach to the delivery of economic development across Wales.  It also emphasises how economic development and its benefits need to be considered equally alongside social and environmental considerations. 

Today I announce the publication of Technical Advice Note (TAN) 23 Economic Development.  TAN 23 complements PPW by providing further detail to help local planning authorities prepare Local Development Plan (LDP) policies and make development management decisions about economic development.  

Market forces do not respect local planning authority boundaries and therefore the need to plan strategically for economic development is essential.  In PPW I set out the importance of collaboration between local planning authorities and this is reflected in TAN 23, which explains how they should achieve this by pooling skills and resources, and preparing joint regional economic studies and an evidence base.  Regional studies should identify strategic sites, land provision targets for B class uses, and how development is to be distributed across local planning authority areas in LDPs.  Local planning authorities should aim to steer development to the locations which are the most sustainable.  Demand that cannot be met sustainably where it arises should be met in neighbouring authorities.

The TAN recognises the importance of giving due weight to economic development alongside social and environmental considerations and explains how local planning authorities can assess economic benefit.  There may also be instances where a proposal 
has negative impacts on social and environmental objectives; however, rather than rejecting the proposal local authorities should first consider a number of questions: do  alternative sites exist? how many jobs will be created? and will a development make a special contribution to policy objectives?

I have introduced a sequential test, reflecting existing planning advice for uses such as retail and leisure development, which local planning authorities should employ when allocating sites or when determining planning applications for traditional forms of economic development. First preference will be for sites within settlements, followed by edge of settlement sites and then finally sites in the open countryside.  However, local planning authorities will have to apply judgement depending on the nature and particular requirements of each use.

I recognise the importance to Wales of economic development in rural areas, and the TAN explains how, by improving the alignment between housing and jobs, people can be encouraged to work closer to home leading to more sustainable communities.  The important role that the re-use and adaption of existing rural buildings has in helping meet the needs of rural areas is also identified, and local planning authorities are expected to adopt a positive approach to the conversion of rural buildings for business re-use.

It is essential that we seek contributions from those with knowledge and insight in local economies, and the TAN sets out an illustrative list of stakeholders that local planning authorities may wish to consult when building evidence in support of their Local Development Plans.

In PPW I required local planning authorities to provide robust evidence to inform the preparation of their development plans economic development strategies and policies. The TAN provides more detailed advice about the collection of this data.  I will in due course also be seeking to issue a practice guide specifically about the content and methodology of preparing Employment Land Reviews. Evidence should also be used to develop economic scenarios which development plans should take account of so that they are flexible enough to adjust to changing economic circumstances over the plan period.

I believe local planning authorities should develop a long term objective for their local economy and the TAN explains how they should prepare a vision for their development plan to achieve this so that economic, social and environmental considerations support each other and point in the same direction.  These will need to be consistent with other strategies such as the Single Integrated Plan and Community Strategy.