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Strategic development plan regime shapes up in Wales

Words: Roger Milne
Wales / Shutterstock_164056865

The Welsh Government launched a consultation this week on the policy intent of regulations for the new-look strategic development plan (SDP) regime, which is designed to introduce a de facto regional element to the planning system.

It has also started consulting on the secondary legislation required to establish the regional Corporate Joint Committees (CJCs), which will undertake strategic development and regional transport planning in the future. This will include preparing SDPs.

The administration has made it clear that the existing Development Plan Manual provides a “strong steer” on the content of a SDP.

“Much of the guidance in terms of the key plan stages, preparation and examination procedures, SEA requirements, the ‘soundness’ tests and evidence base requirements will continue to remain relevant to the process we are proposing for an SDP,” the consultation document stresses.

An SDP should be capable of being prepared and adopted within four years – similar to the current LDP process.

“The only difference is one of scale on the issues being considered. The key aim is to devise a legislative process that is not unduly long or complicated, and provides opportunities for communities and stakeholders to influence and make representations at key stages of the emerging SDP,” says the document.

The government intends to prepare specific SDP guidance to assist the CJCS that will be responsible for SDPs. It has just started consulting on the regulations for these new joint local authority entities.

The document highlights that in areas with an adopted SDP an LDP would still need to be prepared.

LDPs prepared under an adopted SDP would be more focused in nature, dealing with local issues and policies, and would identify site specific allocations, prepared in general conformity with the adopted SDP.

They will be prepared and adopted in around two years, the administration has decided. For this purpose, fresh regulations will be required.

The Welsh Government currently anticipates that work will start on the SDP regulations in spring 2021, with a view to the regulations coming into force by spring/summer 2022.

Meanwhile, in a related development, the government has begun consultation on the draft regulations for the planned four regional CJCs that will exercise functions relating to:

  • strategic development planning;
  • regional transport planning; and
  • economic well-being of their areas.

Ministers have stated that CJCs will be established for Mid Wales, south-west Wales, North Wales and south-east Wales.

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