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Julie James outlines changes to compulsory purchase orders

Words: Laura Edgar
Empty homes / Shutterstock_58881677

Welsh housing minister Julie James has announced changes to planning policy that allow councils to compulsorily purchase empty houses and vacant land.

The changes have been made following a consultation and a call for evidence last year.

The new rules seek to strengthen these powers so that empty houses and vacant land can be redeveloped and brought back into use when it is in the public interest to do so. Revisions have been made to paragraph 3.53 of Planning Policy Wales (PPW) under the ‘Strategic Placemaking’ section to facilitate this.

At the same time, James published a consultation on additional reforms intended to “streamline and modernise” compulsory purchase procedures to support recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as ensure that land is available for affordable housing.

The Welsh Government has identified a number of priority areas to aid the recovery, including focusing on sustainable development, housebuilding and the regeneration of town centres. The compulsory purchase policy changes can help to address the estimated 30,000 empty homes in Wales and bring commercial properties back into use to help create job opportunities for local communities.

James noted that empty homes, former commercial properties and vacant land can “often be a huge blight on local communities”.

“Improving the delivery of homes in the right locations through the planning system is critical and we are determined to do everything we can to help build the homes people want, and help create jobs closer to people’s homes.

“The Welsh Government has put placemaking at the heart of the planning system in Wales and believes compulsory purchase powers are an important action tool which can help support local authorities and communities recover from the Covid-19 crisis. Used properly, compulsory purchase powers can contribute towards effective and efficient regeneration, the revitalisation of communities, placemaking, and the promotion of business, leading to improvements in quality of life.

“These changes to planning policy will not only make the process fairer, more efficient and understandable, but remove barriers and help local councils and public bodies to implement positive changes in their communities.”

Read more:

Wales seeks to capitalise on the lessons learnt during pandemic

Covid-19 recovery blueprint includes focus on town centres

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