“Build homes in communities where everyone wants to live” – Julie James
Housing developments in Wales that are not of a high quality or designed to help create strong, sustainable communities could be prevented from being built in future, Housing Minister, Julie James will say today.
Speaking at a Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Cymru conference in Cardiff to mark the first anniversary of the Welsh Government’s Planning Policy Wales, the Minister will set out the Welsh Government’s unique approach in the UK to “place-making”, and how it intends to turn it into reality.
The concept of place-making, which is now at the heart of national planning policy in Wales, ensures planning decisions consider all aspects of well-being and deliver new developments which are sustainable and provides for the needs of people.
Examples of this include housing developments that:
- Ensure the right homes are in the right places for the people that need them the most,
- Have built-in walking and cycling routes, helping to promote alternatives to car use,
- Are powered and heated by renewable energy generation and are energy efficient,
- Contain open green spaces, helping to enhance the environment,
- Minimise waste and thinking smartly about the circular economy to reduce costs and our carbon footprint.
The Welsh Government is currently considering what changes can be made to enable Ministers to be sighted on applications which are not embracing this new approach.
The financial assistance the Welsh Government provide to the development sector through mechanisms such as housing grants, such as Help to Buy and regeneration funding should all be used to incentivise good practice.
Ministers could take action through their planning direction powers to ‘call-in’ applications which do not consider strategic place making - powers that would be used sparingly.
Speaking ahead of the conference, Housing Minister, Julie James said:
Too often people tell me about the small size and poor build quality of some new homes with the lack of sufficient green infrastructure and the failure to adopt roads and open space.
So taking good planning decisions can and must improve people’s lives. This includes both strategic decisions on where to locate new development and local decision on the design and layout of an individual house.
I want the communities of the future to be places where everyone wants to live. We want people to raise their children and grow old in a community where they feel safe and comfortable, with the sufficient services and facilities which support them through every stage of their lives.
The Welsh Government wants to ensure the biggest applications for new development coming forward are exemplars of place-making practice, and do not carry on the unsatisfactory practices of the past. If necessary, we will use our planning powers to ensure this.
I will continue to advocate for the planning system to be central to how we shape places and support more equitable and inclusive communities. The challenge for all of us is to build high quality development in communities that people can be proud to call their home.
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