Wales planning news, December 2020


Wales planning news, December 2020

09 Dec 2020



Headline news


Future Wales – Scrutiny Committee Response

The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee has published its report in response to the draft National Development Framework (NDF), ‘Future Wales’, which was laid before the Senedd in September 2020.  Having considered written and oral submissions in the Autumn, the scrutiny Committee makes 26 recommendations to the Welsh Ministers who must now take account of these in deciding whether the draft NDF needs further amendment. 
The recommendations are wide-ranging and are accompanied with a series of overarching comments by theme. The Committee:
  1. welcomed the four-region model for Wales introduced in Future Wales, noting that development of the strategic development plans should be addressed at pace;

  2. believes Future Wales should set out more clearly how the document can respond to exacerbated inequalities cause by the pandemic and that strategies for recovery should place emphasis on investment in infrastructure to build resilience and strengthen connectivity;

  3. is pleased with a more supportive framework for renewable technologies but considers too much emphasis is placed on on-shore windfarms, adding that discussions with National Grid must happen urgently to address the constraints to strategic energy development in Wales;

  4. is concerned by the lack of specific delivery mechanisms for affordable housing although considers that Future Wales now recognises the important role of the market in meeting housing need;

  5. agrees that spatial strategy, settlement hierarchy and housing requirement and provision are matters for planning at the regional level;

  6. considers that the need to address the poor connectivity between north and south wales has not been adequately reflected in Future Wales; and,

  7. wants the function of green belts as an essential tool in constraining urban sprawl to be emphasised in Future Wales.
The Welsh Ministers will respond to the recommendations made in February 2021.
Lichfields has prepared an Insight focus and accompanying blog on Future Wales, and raises questions regarding the full extent to which Future Wales will address housing need. Figure 6 of the Insight is particularly noteworthy in the light of the Committee’s response.

Future Wales: The National Plan 2040 Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee November 2020



Quote of the month


We are highly conscious that the continuing Covid-19 pandemic makes it a difficult time to make long-term decisions about transport. For this reason, our recommendations are designed to be flexible and robust to changes in how people may choose to work and travel. Our strong view is that Covid-19 does not alter the fundamental need to provide more transport options for South East Wales’ growing population, especially in the context of the climate emergency.

Lord Burns, Chair of the South East Wales Transport Commission, in his foreword to the Commission’s Final Recommendations


South East Wales Transport Upgrade and a new Transport Strategy Consultation

The South East Wales Transport Commission has concluded that a number of significant transport improvements are needed for the region.
Its report ‘South East Wales Transport Commission: final recommendations’, published on 26 November, says a mixture of rail stations, rapid bus routes and cycle corridors should be constructed in the South East Wales region to replace the scrapped M4 motorway extension.  The Commission was established to find ways of reducing congestion on the M4 motorway. Plans had previously been in place to build a six lane, additional stretch of motorway which would bypass Newport. However, this was overturned by the Welsh Government in 2019 as ministers were concerned about the environmental ramifications of the scheme considering the close proximity of the Gwent Levels, which are wetlands home to rare birds and other biodiversity. In what the Report describes as ‘a series of alternatives’, improvements are mainly focused on rail travel with the attention being on the South Wales Main line between Cardiff, Newport and Bristol. The Report recommends increasing capacity of this rail line with more trains and greater flexibility offered.
A targeted expansion of railways stations is also sought, which would add six new rail stations between Cardiff and the River Severn. The proposed new stations are Newport Road (Cardiff), Cardiff Parkway (St Mellons), Newport West, Newport East (Somerton), Llanwern and Magor. The additional proposals of new rapid bus corridors would result in 90% of people in Cardiff and Newport living within a mile of a rail station or rapid bus corridor. The report also recommends adopting a single governance model over the whole transport network as well as ensuring a transport focussed approach to planning is implemented so that developments are built around public transport networks instead of motorways, so that they discourage car dependency.
The intention to move away from car dependency is also the focus of a new consultation that was launched by the Welsh Government on the 17 November. The consultation, titled ‘A New Wales Transport Strategy’, is seeking opinions on the Welsh Government’s draft strategy for the future of transport in Wales for the next 20 years as well as the priorities for the next 5 years. The draft strategy sets out the plans for rail, bus, roads, aviation, active travel, freight and logistics and maritime. The consultation closes on the 25 January 2021.

Welsh Government: Consultation, New Wales Transport Strategy Welsh Government, South East Wales Transport Commission: final recommendations

Housing Programme provides £35m in funding

The Welsh Government is providing £35 million in funding to its Housing Programme, with a particular focus on Modern Methods of Construction and utilising local supply chains to facilitate a green economic recovery post Coronavirus and a transition to a low carbon economy. The Housing and Local Government Minister Julia James announced the programme, highlighting how 400 factory built homes will be produced by Welsh companies and supply chains. The funding will provide support to numerous projects including 90 zero carbon social homes in Blaenau Gwent, 55 new homes and a retrofit of 72 existing ones in Port Talbot which provide a reduction in energy bills due to the increased energy efficiency of the houses. ClwydAlyn are also building 63 timber frame homes with help from the funding. Craig Sparrow, Executive Director of Development for ClwydAlyn said: “The Innovative Housing Programme provided by the Welsh Government, has been vital in delivering a project which has stretched the boundaries by embracing new technology and modern methods of construction to build high quality, ultra-low carbon homes for our residents”.

Welsh Government: Housing Programme funding

Disclaimer: This publication has been written in general terms and cannot be relied on to cover specific situations. We recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from acting on any of the contents of this publication. Lichfields accepts no duty of care or liability for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of any material in this publication. Lichfields is the trading name of Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners Limited. Registered in England, no.2778116