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Welsh economic strategy stresses importance of planning

Words: Roger Milne
Economic plan for Wales / Shutterstock_407898016

The Welsh Government has published a new economic and growth blueprint that stresses the importance of planning.

The document, Prosperity for All, says ministers will introduce a new regionally focused model of economic development, working with each region to determine and drive its own sectors according to its strengths and opportunities.

This would mean a focus on a smaller number of national sectors where there are challenges or opportunities across Wales.

The administration is promising to design major Welsh Government infrastructure projects to join up public services and other developments, and to maximise regional benefits.

The report highlights the importance of harnessing the opportunities presented by major schemes like the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon and plans for a new nuclear power station on Anglesey.

More effective support for the development of local supply chains and clusters should be incorporated so that economic value is retained locally to create more employment opportunities closer to home.

The report promises the introduction of a new National Development Framework, setting out a 20-year land use plan for Wales, guiding strategic development and supported by the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales.

The blueprint commits ministers to setting out a low-carbon pathway providing clarity and certainty for action and investment in the low-carbon economy by setting targets for 2020, 2030 and 2040.

Also in prospect are “a bespoke infrastructure consenting process which is responsive to business and community needs” that would support sustainable economic growth, and the decarbonisation of the country’s energy supply.

Housing is a key element of the strategy. Ministers have promised to deliver on the administration’s target of 20,000 new affordable homes by 2021, and make more homes available at affordable rent in every part of Wales. The administration will also work with local authorities ”to begin council housebuilding at pace and scale for the first time in decades”.

Roisin Willmott, director of RTPI Cymru, said: “The strategy sets planning as one of the key levers of government to help deliver its priorities. RTPI Cymru welcomes the recognition of the strategic role planning can play. We are currently working with the Welsh Government, and have commissioned Arup to undertake a study to assess the value of planning in Wales.

“We hope this will provide evidence to support investment in planning services – without well-resourced efficient services, the planning system will struggle to deliver effectively.”

Prosperity for All can be found on the Welsh Government website (pdf).

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