The approach to strategic land use planning in Wales is changing. The Planning (Wales) Act 2015 introduces two new levels of development plan, which will sit above the existing local development plans (LDPs):
- A National Development Framework (NDF) covering the whole of Wales. The NDF will set out the Welsh Government’s policies on development and land use in a spatial context, and replace the Wales Spatial Plan; and
- Strategic Development Plans (SDPs) – these are regional plans that will sit between the NDF and LDPs in certain parts of Wales, and will deal with issues that cut across a number of local planning authority areas (but are not of national significance).
The National Development Framework
The NDF will set out a 20 year land use framework and be reviewed at least every five years. Unlike the Wales Spatial Plan, the NDF will have development plan status, meaning that all SDPs and LDPs must be in conformity with it. The Welsh Government summarises the purpose of the NDF as follows;
- sets out where nationally important growth and infrastructure is needed and how the planning system can deliver it;
- provides direction for SDPs and LDPs;
- supports the determination of applications under the Developments of National Significance (DNS) regime. Further reading on DNS can be found in our DNS briefing (PDF 498KB);
- sits alongside Planning Policy Wales, which sets out the Welsh Government’s national planning policies and will continue to provide the context for land use planning; and
- supports national economic, transport, environmental, housing, energy and cultural strategies and ensure they can be delivered through the planning system.
The Planning (Wales) Act 2015 requires the draft NDF to be considered by the National Assembly before the final NDF is published.
The Assembly will have 60 days (excluding recess) to consider the draft NDF. The Welsh Government must take account of any resolution or recommendations made by the Assembly, or any of its committees, in deciding whether or not the draft NDF should be amended.
The Welsh Government must publish a statement alongside the final NDF outlining how it has had regard to the Assembly’s resolutions or recommendations.
The current timetable (below) shows the draft NDF being considered by the Assembly in October – December 2019. The final NDF is due to be published in March 2020.
Call for evidence and projects
The Welsh Government is currently undertaking a call for evidence and projects (7 December 2016 to 7 March 2017) to help inform the development of the NDF.
The consultation is asking for national level evidence and projects that will help Wales meet its various national objectives. It gives the following as examples that could be relevant to the NDF:
- all-Wales studies looking at the potential for renewable energy generation, connectivity issues between different parts of Wales, environmental issues covering multiple regions; and
- issues which relate to a geographically smaller area but which are of national significance, such as power stations or nationally important habitats.
Evidence and projects submitted will be considered in the context of the development planning system and against the seven Well-being goals, as set out in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
The consultation document says the Welsh Government will publish details of the evidence and projects that are submitted, and also publish a summary of its assessment of them. However, no timescale is given for when this is intended to be done.
Statement of Public Participation
The Planning (Wales) Act 2015 requires the Welsh Government to publish a Statement of Public Participation setting out how it will consult with the public during the development of the NDF. This document was published in November 2016 following consultation in early 2016.
The Statement of Public Participation shows there will be two further 12 week stages of public consultation, prior to the draft NDF being considered by the Assembly.
The full NDF timetable is as follows:
Article by Elfyn Henderson, National Assembly for Wales Research Service