For decades planning policy in England and Wales has been centred around big city growth and development. While this may be appropriate in England where most people live in cities and large towns, it is not appropriate in Wales. Our cities are relatively small, and three quarters of our population live in medium sized towns and small villages. Wales is also a land of hills and valleys, ill-suited to city sprawl and expansion.
A Plaid Cymru government would therefore reset the top tier of planning in Wales – the National Development Framework - to define six new regions in Wales including two special development regions in Arfor, the western seaboard of Wales, and Cymoedd, the Valleys. The new NDF will have a distinctive vision for maximising the potential of each region. To this end we shall bring forward a process for agreeing new Strategic Development Plans, based on democratic structures, in each of these regions as early as practicable in the new Senedd term.
Based on Welsh rather than UK priorities, our approach will focus on public transport networks forming corridors between designated ‘development domains’. Homes for All
We would restore balance to the local planning system in which the public have been marginalised and councillors forced to accept plans they do not support.
Our overall planning policy will be integrated with the activities of Prosperity Wales, the Valleys Development Authority, the Arfor Development Agency, and Unnos – Land and Housing Wales. This would result in a more proactive approach than the current situation that simply reacts to the plans of private developers, producing insufficient provision for public transport investment and other infrastructure, and excessive and unnecessary use of greenfield sites.
We would create an autonomous Welsh Planning Inspectorate, Cynllunio Cymru.
We would re-iterate that planning departments are bound to foreground the Equality Act, the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, and also have duties for the safeguarding of children.
Our Government will actively consider how it could introduce expiry or review dates for large scale planning permissions where the construction of the development was subsequently so delayed that the planning conditions under which permission was granted no longer comply with Planning Policy Wales.
We would strengthen TAN 20 to reflect the new provisions in the Planning Act 2015 making linguistic impact a material factor for the first time.
We would strengthen the preference for brownfield over greenfield development and renovation over demolition in planning, housing and environmental policy.