The Minister visited Cynon to launch the new policy which stresses that in making planning decisions, local authorities should give careful consideration to economic, environmental and social factors – the three key principles of sustainable development.
It calls on local authorities to adopt a more evidence based approach to decision making, and to take a “whole economy” approach, rather than focussing on traditional and restrictive employment land use. The guidance also seeks to ensure more effective work within and between local authorities.
Speaking on a visit to Mountain Ash to see homes that have benefitted from a range of energy saving improvements, the Minister said:
“The planning system is vital to the wellbeing of Wales, and that is why we need a system that gives full consideration to the social, economic and environmental impact of any development.
“The street I am visiting today is benefiting from a range of energy efficiency improvements and is an excellent example of how development can boost the local economy and provide jobs while also delivering environmental and quality of life improvements.
“This new policy is about balance. It recognises that jobs and growth are essential to Wales’ economy, but also recognises that we must never lose sight of the other factors that are vital to people’s long term quality of life.
“The policy calls on local planning authorities to establish a robust evidence base of the economic characteristics of their particular areas and to use this evidence when making decisions and when developing their local development plans. This should help ensure decision making is based on a realistic assessment of demand.
“The policy also asks local authorities to consult their Economic Development Officers on proposals which have the potential to generate or retain jobs locally so that the potential benefits of such developments can be fully understood.
“The changes to the policy are based on an independent report about how we can use the planning system to best support a sustainable Welsh economy, and I am confident that they are right for Wales.”
The Minister visited an Arbed project in Penrhiwceiber, Mountain Ash which is continuing to see local homes being upgraded with energy saving improvements such as internal and external wall insulation and solar thermal panels for solar hot water.