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Section highlightIndex of Planning Policy Guidance for Wales
Our land use planning policy guidance is set out in two core documents, "Planning Policy Wales" and "Minerals Planning Policy Wales".
Legislative programme 2012 - 2013 »
Addressing the Assembly in the Senedd today, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, detailed the eight bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the second year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
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Oral - Progress Towards Identifying and Addressing the Needs of Deep Rural Areas
The purpose of my statement today is to update Members on progress in the delivery of the 'One Wales’ commitment to work with local authorities to identify and to address the particular needs of deep rural areas.
I view action on this commitment as an opportunity to address concerns that isolated rural communities are disadvantaged by their distance from the services that are taken for granted elsewhere in Wales. As a result, I have commissioned research to test commonly held assumptions and explore the range of issues surrounding access to services and the provision of services to deep rural communities. I want the results of this research to be available before the summer 2009 recess.
From the outset, it was clear that there was no standard definition of 'deep rural areas’ so I instructed my officials to develop a simple set of criteria based on service provision and access, to identify such areas in a clear and consistent way.
This task was not as easy as it seemed at first, as it involved unpicking the particular characteristics of deep rural and contrasting them against our understanding of more general rural areas.
The conclusion reached was a definition of deep rural areas as places that are over thirty minutes average drive time from a settlement of 10,000 people. Towns of around 10,000 people normally have a good concentration of health, financial, leisure and other services, whereas smaller, more remote communities do not enjoy access to the same comprehensive range of services, or people must travel to access those services.
For the purposes of this study, defining a deep rural area as an area that is a thirty-minute drive time from a settlement of 10,000 captures the sense of peripherality and isolation from main service centres that is experienced by residents of deep rural areas. I have consulted the Welsh Local Government Association. It agrees with this definition and supports my proposals to undertake research on the needs of deep rural areas.
Using this definition, deep rural areas are evident in the rural parts of north east Anglesey, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Powys, west Gower in Swansea, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and north Pembrokeshire. In order to inform the work, my officials have worked in partnership with the WLGA to identify remoter rural communities where detailed research work could be undertaken.
The Wales Rural Observatory, which is a collaboration between Cardiff University and Aberystwyth University, will undertake the research in the study areas. It is has a long track record of providing evidence on rural issues, which help inform policy development.
We have identified four suitable communities where studies will be conducted. One is in north Powys around Llanfihangel-yng Ngwynfa near Llanfyllin and one in south Powys in the Llangammarch Wells area. The other two study communities are around Tegryn in north Pembrokeshire and Aberdaron on the Lleyn peninsula.
These study areas were picked because they comply with the definition of being around 30 minutes’ drive from a town of 10,000 people. Another reason for choosing them was that they have between 180 and 500 households, which is the necessary number of households for successful survey work. A further consideration in the selection of the areas was their lack of access to a range of important services, which was identified by computer analysis using a geographical information system.
The Wales Rural Observatory is finalising the design of the study in consultation with the local authorities involved. The work will involve deep rural residents and service providers in the public, private and third sectors responding to a questionnaire on a number of service-related themes. A proportion of the respondents will also be asked to participate in follow-up interviews.
Within my ministerial portfolio, I will also seek opportunities to apply the knowledge gained from this work to support sustainable rural communities and to complement existing measures under axes 3 and 4 of the rural development plan.
The results of the research will be shared with all local authorities in Wales. I am convinced that our commitment to this project will encourage every sector to consider and develop innovative service delivery models, and that the project will provide evidence that will influence policy development aiming to ensure long-term sustainability in all of our rural communities.
I have referred to the challenges, and I think that it is also appropriate to remind Members that we have already awarded nearly £50 million under axes 3 and 4 of the rural development plan. We are working closely with partners to simplify things for the next business plan round. The important point is that this deep rural work will give us the opportunity to better focus axes 3 and 4 next time and ensure tangible benefits to the areas in most need.