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21/04/2016

Welsh Lib Dems pledge to develop Welsh planning inspectorate

Words: Laura Edgar
Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams

The Welsh Liberal Democrats plan to develop a Welsh planning inspectorate and to establish a rent-to-own model.

A Wales That Works For You also promises to empower communities.

The assembly election will take place on 5 May.

Housing

 

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have set a target of building 20,000 affordable homes in Wales by 2021. Additionally, the party would, within six months of the assembly election, “set a target for the number of affordable homes to be built in Wales during the assembly term, and report on progress each year”. This would be laid out in a Housing Bill.

The manifesto outlines that the party wishes to ensure that local authorities develop a compulsory accessible housing register as well as provide advice on building disability friendly homes. A rent-to-own model would be established, which would see monthly payments “steadily accrue the tenant a percentage stake in the property”. The tenant would own the property outright after 30 years.

The party pledges to deliver at least 2,500 of this type of home over the assembly term.

A new help-to-rent scheme to provide government-backed tenancy deposit loans for first-time renters under 30 would be established, says the manifesto, while a national empty homes strategy would also be established. The party wants to empower communities to take the initiative over their local services and assets.

The manifesto pledges to introduce a number of “rights to”, including a Right to Build, which would allow local communities to propose small-scale, community-led developments.

Planning

 

Good planning, the manifesto states, “is essential to delivering sustainable communities”. “Effective” planning rules could ensure new homes are well connected to public transport and resilient to the effects of climate change.

To ensure that councils think long-term, the party says it would: Improve housing assessments to make sure they response to factors such as the future of the Welsh language, and facilitate the use of space above shops for much-needed housing and development of town centre communities.

Permitted development rights for assets of community value would be removed under the Welsh Liberal Democrats, and the party also promises to “strengthen planning guidance to ensure a more thorough assessment of community need in any planning decision”.

The manifesto sets out plans to develop a Welsh planning inspectorate and a single National Planning Advisory and Training Service as well as to ensure that planning rules support the development of digital infrastructure.

Transport

 

The party makes a manifesto promise to create a Welsh Development Bank, which would among other things, have an infrastructure investment bank branch, “to lever investment for transport, digital and social infrastructure”.

A 10-year rolling capital investment plan would be set out under the Welsh Liberal Democrats. It would use the development bank to deliver major infrastructure developments to enable the economy to grow, public transport that connects communities and mobile and digital communications “fit for the modern world”.

Additionally, the manifesto says the party would press the UK Government to publish a long-term timetable for the full electrification of Welsh railway lines, including the North Wales Coast Line.

A feasibility study into reinstating the rail links between Aberystwyth and Carmarthen to link up with the existing network would also be commissioned.

Energy

 

The party has outlined plans in its manifesto to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and to produce all the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025. A carbon impact assessment will be done on all new laws to assess their environmental impact.

A Carbon Budget would be published alongside every Budget so that people can see the impact the party’s plans would have on the environment.

Pledges are also made in the manifesto to enable dual use of new coastal and river renewable energy generation schemes to provide flood defence; support solar developments; use the marine environment to develop renewable energy; support tidal range power, and aim for a “greater focus” on offshore wind.

Additionally, there are plans to establish a “frack-free Wales by refusing licences for fracking applications once powers are devolved, and implementing a moratorium through the planning system in the meantime”.


A Wales That Works For You can be found here (pdf).


Plaid Cymru’s manifesto sets out plans to create a National Housing Company and a National Infrastructure Commission Wales. More about this can be found 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.


Image credit | Liberal Democrats

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