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05/04/2016

Plaid Cymru publishes election manifesto

Words: Laura Edgar
Leanne Wood

Plaid Cymru has published its election manifesto in the run-up to May's Assembly election, pledging to create a National Housing Company and a National Infrastructure Commission Wales.

The Change Wales Needs also sets out plans for up to six combined authorities.

Speaking before today’s launch of the manifesto in Cardiff, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said: “Plaid Cymru goes into this election with the most ambitious programme for government since the advent of devolution.

“Responsibility lies at the heart of our programme for government. With a fully costed and independently verified plan for Wales, we are confident that this manifesto represents the first chapter in a period of better governance for our nation."

Here, The Planner has compiled a round-up of the key pledges in the manifesto.

Planning

 

Plaid Cymru states that the local plan system under Labour has “marginalised the public” and forced councils to accept plans they don’t support. Therefore, it wants to “restore balance”.

The party would seek to bring forward the process for agreeing strategic development plans in each of the proposed combined authorities (see below) as early as possible.

This aims to amend the “flaws” of local development plans, including a lack of transport provision and the “unnecessary use of greenfield sites” to avoid urban sprawl.

Additionally, the party plans to create a National Development Framework with its implementation overseen by an autonomous Welsh Planning Inspectorate.

Housing

 

The supply of affordable homes should be met through a combination of bringing empty properties back into use and new developments consisting of mixed housing in the social and private sectors, according to the manifesto.

Plaid Cymru states that it would create a National Housing Company, which would borrow against rents to build a new generation of public rental housing in Wales.

Local authorities would be expected to agree targets for supplying affordable housing with the Welsh Government.

The party says it would fund small-scale housing developments in rural Wales on “exception sites” whose land plots, not covered by general planning permissions, would be “capped at an affordable housing price”.

Plans to reform the private rented sector, including rent controls, are outlined in the manifesto to ensure that the needs of current renters are met.

Combined authorities

 

The manifesto states that Plaid Cymru would legislate to create up to six regional combined authorities comprised of existing local councils.

How this would be organised would be subject to consultation, says the party, but it “envisages” the draft proposals based on the Cardiff and Swansea city deals, a new region based in North-East Wales, a central region, and option for either a single regional along the Welsh-speaking West coast or a South-West and North-West breakdown.

The authorities, according to the manifesto, would plan strategically for matters including transport and they would be chaired by a directly elected mayor.

Additionally, Plaid Cymru plans to create a system of area councils, with legislation established to give them powers over matters including planning, development control and town centre regeneration.

National Infrastructure Commission Wales

 

The party plans to establish a National Infrastructure Commission Wales, which would be an “independent public corporation that will be responsible for planning, funding and delivering the aspirations set out in the National Infrastructure Investment Plan”.

The manifesto says transport projects would involve “substantial” investment in rolling stock, “creating new opportunities for local manufacturers”.

Fracking

 

A Plaid Cymru Government would “prevent hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) and the exploitation of other forms of unconventional gas as soon as the powers are devolved the Wales Act”.

In the meantime, the party says it would update planning guidance to include a new Technical Advice Note on unconventional gas and it opposes nuclear power in new locations and the use of pylons through National Parks and Areas of Natural Beauty.


The Change Wales Needs can be found in full here.


The Wales Green Party has pledged to provide at least 12,000 homes a year and to use planning legislation to require new housing developments to include district heating. Further information on this can be found here.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have pledged to develop a Welsh planning inspectorate and to establish a rent to own model. More on this can be found here.


Image credit | Gareth Llewellyn, Plaid Cymru

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