The Welsh government has revealed a new development plan that lays out its priorities for growth in employment and housing for the next 20 years.
Announced by Housing and Local Government minister Julie James, Future Wales sets out where housing, employment, and infrastructure should be developed to support town and city centres, achieve decarbonisation and climate resilience, and improve the health and wellbeing of communities.
The national spatial strategy – which “predates the COVID-19 pandemic” – sets out a vision for development in Wales to 2040, focusing on growing existing urban areas and ensuring homes, jobs, and services are located in the same area.
The plan also gives councils stronger tools to refuse planning permission for new out-of-town retail parks and other developments that “would be better located” in town centres.
Further, the plan sets out new priority areas for large-scale wind and solar energy development to replace TAN (Technical Advice Notice) 8.
Wrexham and Deeside; Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys; and Swansea Bay and Llanelli have been recognised as nationally significant areas for growth.
James said: “The past year has shown us just how important where we live is to our health and happiness. It’s easier to be healthy and active when we have safe and attractive green space nearby.
“If more of us are able to work locally or at home, we can shorten commutes, reduce congestion, and use our local high streets more.
“We have already committed to a ‘Town Centre First’ approach, which means locating services and buildings in town centres wherever possible. This plan will help to deliver it.
“This plan sets out our priorities for growth in employment and housing, in particular affordable housing. It sets out a vision for our villages, towns and cities developing at a walkable scale, with homes, local facilities, green spaces and public transport within easy reach.
“This work predates the COVID-19 pandemic but living through it has brought home for everyone how important liveable communities are to our health and wellbeing.”
30% working remotely
Deputy minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters said: “We have a long-term ambition to see around 30% of the workforce in Wales working from home or working remotely.
“We know that if people have more flexibility in where they work, they can avoid a lengthy commute, reduce road congestion, which plays a part in improving air quality.
“As part of our ‘Transforming Towns’ vision, we hope to capture the benefits for our towns and communities and create new opportunities for regeneration and economic activity.
“By planning our neighbourhoods so we can live, work, and socialise, we have opportunities to reduce congestion and pollution and create work-life balance benefits for employees and employers.
“We have just launched our Economic Resilience and Reconstruction Mission, which sets out how we will reconstruct and rebuild Wales’ economy so it is more prosperous, equal, and greener than ever before.
“The way we plan our communities has a significant role to play in this.”
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