Policy News

Future Wales

The Welsh Government published Future Wales: The National Plan 2040 on 24 February making it the first ever national development plan in the United Kingdom.

Future Wales is a long term plan setting out the Welsh Government’s strategic spatial outcomes; it integrates a wide range of policy goals; has been developed through a four year programme of extensive engagement and assessment; and its delivery will be driven by collaboration across the public, private and third sector.

Some of the main policy elements of Future Wales are:

  • Strategic growth should be focused in three national growth areas. Not all parts of Wales are expected to grow equally. Future Wales determines that growth should be focussed in established built up areas and in certain other places. In some growth areas there is a requirement to establish Green Belts to manage growth. National growth areas are complemented by regional growth areas spread throughout Wales.
  • A strong emphasis on sustainable placemaking. City and town centres will benefit from a town centre first policy which relates to commercial, retail, education, health and public service facilities.
  • In rural areas, growth patterns should be determined locally reflecting need.  The character, service provision and accessibility of places should determine the aspirations and plans for growth.  Future Wales prioritises vibrancy and quality of life over the pursuit of growth for its own sake.
  • Future Wales identifies where and how new major renewable energy development will be acceptable. This reflects the Welsh Government’s strong commitment to tackling climate change and the declaration of a climate emergency. It also identifies priority areas for district heat networks.
  • Future Wales sets out a framework for regional planning, identifying what Strategic Development Plans should look like and the policy areas they must address.
  • Flood risk in the growth areas should be addressed in a strategic way, while the plan places a strong emphasis on developing resilient ecological networks and green infrastructure.
  • There is a strong focus on delivering active travel, metro schemes and improving national connectivity. The transport policies complement the emerging Wales Transport Strategy – Llwybr Newydd.
  • A clear focus on the delivery of affordable housing helping to ensure that everyone has access to good housing.
  • Support for enhanced digital communications and a commitment to identify Mobile Action Zones where there is little or no mobile telecommunications coverage.
  • Support for the emerging National Forest, which will evolve over multiple sites across Wales.

Development management decisions, Strategic and Local Development Plans, planning appeals and all other work directed by the development plan will need to accord with Future Wales. This will ensure the planning system is aligned at all levels to work together to help achieve our objectives.

Future Wales provides clear direction for regional planning, requiring the preparation of Strategic Development Plans in the North, Mid Wales, South West and South East. The publication of Future Wales marks the beginning of this process, the implementation of Future Wales is key to ensure we achieve these outcomes.

Planning Policy Wales edition 11 changes

The publication of Future Wales has led to updates to Planning Policy Wales to ensure both documents align. The changes reflect wider legislative, policy and guidance updates along with:

  • Information about the Placemaking Wales Charter and the importance of requiring active travel and public transport infrastructure early in the development process.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic and Welsh Government’s Building Better Places document which pinpoints the most relevant planning policy priorities and actions to aid in the recovery. 

News in brief