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Welsh Planner Live: Minister launches 'placemaking charter' for Wales

Words: Simon Wicks
Julie James / National Assemby for Wales

New principles for placemaking in Wales will drive the creation of better-designed, more ‘integrated’ developments, according to the Welsh Government minister for housing and local government.

Launching a new Placemaking Wales Charter at the Welsh Planner Live virtual conference, Julie James MS said its six principles would guide planners, developers, policymakers and communities to think about places “holistically”, rather than “in isolation”.

The charter had been created over the course of a year by more than 25 organisations within the Placemaking Wales Partnership and was being launched this morning (Wednesday 24 sept) on the Design Commission for Wales website.

It intended, said James, to provide a set of principles which would secure development that would address the need for better place design in Welsh cities, towns and villages, incorporating improved connectivity; pathways to lower-carbon lifestyles; better quality development; and improved access to existing infrastructure and services.

This, she said, would require a “cultural change” in local authority planning departments and in the development industry. “We cannot revert to building poor quality development on sites that are not sustainable,” she said.

Seen in the context of the ongoing development of the Future Wales national development framework, which entered its statutory scrutiny period in the Welsh Senedd on Monday (21 Sept), the principles would help to guide a movement towards environmental, social cultural and economic recovery in Wales, James said. 

The charter has six principles which organisations involved in shaping the built and and natural environments are invited to adopt:

  • People and community: The local community is involved in the development of proposals.  
  • Location: Places grow and develop in a way that uses land efficiently, supports and enhances existing places and is well connected.  
  • Movement: Walking, cycling and public transport are prioritised to provide a choice of transport modes and avoid dependence on private vehicles.  
  • Mix of uses: Places have a range of purposes which provide opportunities for community development, local business growth and access jobs, services and facilities via walking, cycling or public transport.  
  • Public realm: Streets and public spaces are well defined, welcoming, safe and inclusive with a distinct identity.  
  • Identity: The positive, distinctive qualities of existing places are valued and respected.  

Current signatories include the RTPI, the Homebuilders Federation, Natural Resources Wales and Transport for Wales. Supporting guidance is expected to be published before the ned of the year.

Roisin Willmott FRTPI, the director of RTPI Cymru, said: “The RTPI is very pleased to be a signatory to the charter which commits the organisation to support placemaking in all relevant areas of its work. Planners are at the heart of making people-focused, active and distinctive places and we welcome the cross-disciplinary approach the charter promotes.”

Photo | National Assembly for Wales