Policy Forum for Wales

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
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The future for planning policy in Wales - the proposed strategy, supporting clean economic growth, and serving the changing needs of work and communities

Morning, Tuesday, 6th July 2021


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine the way forward for planning policy in Wales.


It will be an opportunity to discuss Future Wales - the National Plan 2040, the recently published first National Spatial Strategy for Wales, setting out where housing, employment, and infrastructure should be developed, with measures to support town and city centres and decarbonisation, as well as improve health and wellbeing in Wales.


Delegates will discuss what is needed from planning policy to help drive regional economic growth in the wake of the pandemic, while at the same time supporting decarbonisation efforts and upgrading infrastructure.


The discussion also takes place in the run-up to the new nationally-focused Planning Inspectorate for Wales becoming operational in October.


We are very pleased to be able to include a keynote session on establishing the new inspectorate with Tony Thickett, Head, Planning Inspectorate Wales; as well as a keynote contribution from Dr Roisin Willmott, Director of Wales and Northern Ireland, Royal Town and Planning Institute (RTPI), which will look at the priorities and key issues for implementing the National Plan 2040.


Overall, the agenda looks at:

  • Future Wales - the National Plan 2040 - looking at key issues for implementation
  • establishing the new Planning Inspectorate for Wales
  • serving local communities into the future - ensuring accessibility to key services and preparing for the potential impact of changes, including to working practices
  • the wider policy context - aligning development and planning with net-zero goals, and priorities for improving connectivity

The agenda

  • Priorities and key issues for implementing the National Plan 2040, and for a planning framework that can support growth and development in Wales
  • Spatial planning in Wales in the wake of the pandemic - upgrading infrastructure, boosting productivity, driving employment, and supporting the economic recovery of town and city centres
  • Aligning development and planning with net-zero goals - decarbonisation, public transportation and building sustainably
  • Serving local communities into the future - ensuring accessibility to key services and preparing for the impact of potential changes to needs, habits and working practices
  • Establishing the new planning inspectorate - ensuring a smooth transition and meeting the needs of communities in Wales

Areas for discussion:

Future Wales - National Plan 2040 - looking at key issues for implementation

  • meeting key aims - the way forward for strengthening the planning system so that it delivers a greater contribution to economic growth, housing and infrastructure delivery
  • urban growth and regeneration:
    • Strategic Placemaking Principles - how to ensure that the principles outlined in Future Wales are applied by Planning Authorities
    • identifying priority areas - ensuring planning authorities and public sector leaders take a proactive and cooperative role working with the Welsh Government to identify the optimum areas for growth and regeneration
  • local authorities:
    • evaluating the likely impact of the National Plan 2040 on local authorities and the decision making process
    • with the public sector being given a strengthened role in assembling land and enabling development
  • Strategic and Local Development Plans:
    • implications of the Future Wales document - what this means for Strategic Development Plans (SDPs), their preparation, and what they will be expected to accommodate
    • compliance - how to ensure that Local Development Plans will be compliant with both Future Wales and their SDPs
  • housing:
    • meeting demand:
      • evaluating whether the house building ambitions outlined in Future Wales can be met
      • next steps for building sustainable homes in Wales, and the impact of ongoing projects such as Plasdŵr
    • local authorities - assessing the likely impact of local authorities setting overall housing requirements for their local areas
  • digital infrastructure - looking at how local authorities can engage effectively with digital infrastructure providers to identify the future needs for their area

The wider policy context - aligning development and planning with net-zero goals, and priorities for improving connectivity

  • climate change - looking at the role of the planning system in helping to accelerate Wales’ wider ambitions for a reduction in emissions
    • including the Welsh Government’s goal to generate enough renewable energy to fuel 70% of Wales’ total energy consumption by 2030
  • sustainable design - how it can be encouraged, including redesigning older structures to meet modern standards
  • national connectivity - priorities for improvements that can be made that encourage the use of public transport or electric vehicles for longer distance trips
  • regional links - ways in which Transport for Wales, local authorities, and other operators can work with the Welsh Government to improve regional connectivity, such as through:
    • encouraging active travel
    • improving the bus network
    • developing metro systems across the country
    • supporting the roll out of a fuelling infrastructure to facilitate the adoption of low-emission vehicles, particularly in rural areas

Serving local communities into the future - ensuring accessibility to key services and preparing for the potential impact of changes, including to working practices

  • supporting rural communities:
    • Strategic and Local Development Plans - how best to ensure that these meet the needs of their communities
    • developing greater connectivity - considering plans such as Openreach’s ‘Full Fibre’ Broadband upgrade, aimed at improving digital infrastructure in rural areas
    • age-balanced rural communities:
      • what is needed to achieve this ambition, which is aimed at countering depopulation
      • taking into account affordable housing provision, employment opportunities, and the availability of local services
  • the ‘Town Centre First’ policy:
    • the direction of policy - assessing the previous Welsh Government’s view that significant developments must be in town and city centres with good access to public transport
    • the impact of the pandemic - looking at the possibility of rethinking how the policy is applied, so as to make town and city centres less reliant on the retail sector
  • working practices:
    • potential change - the likely impact of the previous Welsh Government’s ambitions for a long-term change to working practices on the planning system and the future design of communities
    • economic benefits - assessing the degree to which increased remote working can drive regeneration and increase economic activity within communities
    • remote working hubs - what communities would like to see from the establishment of community-based remote working hubs, currently being explored to create a hybrid model where staff can work at home, in the office, or in a hub, and priorities for their design

Establishing the new Planning Inspectorate for Wales

  • transition:
    • ensuring the move from the current joint inspectorate to the new one runs smoothly
    • assessing what needs to be done ahead of the Inspectorate becoming operational in October
  • key priorities - what the Inspectorate’s priorities should be for meeting the needs of communities in Wales

Relevant background:

  • Future Wales - the National Plan 2040 - the first National Spatial Strategy for Wales, which will be reviewed by the Welsh Government every five years:
    • setting out where housing, employment, and infrastructure should be developed to support town and city centres and decarbonisation, as well as improve health and wellbeing in Wales up to 2040
    • with a focus on:
      • existing urban areas:
        • prioritising growth and ensuring jobs, homes and services are located in these areas
        • citing Wrexham and Deeside; Cardiff, Newport and the Valley; and Swansea Bay and Llanelli as nationally significant areas for growth
      • Strategic Placemaking Principles - a green and community-centric approach to planning, which it is argued should be used to underpin urban growth and development across Wales
      • delivering affordable housing:
        • underlining this as an area of focus for housing policy, with Wales expected to need a further 110,000 homes in the next five years
        • highlighting that the responsibility lies with local authorities to set out overall housing requirements for their areas
      • public transport - with plans for increased investment in order to move Wales away from reliance on cars
      • boosting the Welsh language:
        • including the Welsh Government’s Cymraeg 2050 goal to help grow the Welsh language
        • with one of the wider aims of The National Plan 2040 being to grow the presence of the Welsh language in the community
        • Views sought on future of Welsh language ‘infrastructure’ - the ongoing consultation on how to make language resources easier to access and utilise
  • the new Planning Inspectorate for Wales:
    • expected to become operational this October and replace the current joint England and Wales Inspectorate
    • with the aim of meeting the specific needs of Wales, as planning policy is increasingly diverging from England
  • revised Planning Policy Wales document - published alongside The National Plan 2040, it sets out the land use policies of the Welsh Government moving forward
  • Building Better Places:
    • published last year, setting out the previous Welsh Government’s policy position on how the planning system can support the recovery from COVID-19
    • recently announced developments, such as the regeneration of the Canal Quarter in Cardiff, which is aimed at re-energising the city centre and boosting recovery from the pandemic
  • aim for 30% of the Welsh workforce to work remotely:
    • the previous Welsh Government ambition for a long-term change to working practices, and increased remote working driving regeneration and economic activity within communities
    • community-based remote working hubs - being explored alongside this to create a hybrid model whereby staff can work at home, in the office, or in a hub
    • the Welsh Government’s recent use of public consultations and interactive research to gauge public interest in remote working and the demand for community work hubs
  • Llwybr Newydd: the Wales Transport Strategy 2021­ - looking ahead to the next 20 years, with the central principles of:
    • increasing the use of public transport
    • reducing Wales’ carbon emissions, with targets including:
      • for 45% of all journeys to be carried out sustainably by 2040
      • reducing the need for public transport by bringing services closer to people, such as building workplaces closer to public transport links
      • designing new developments with walking and cycling in mind
      • maximising the use of land close to transport hubs and targeting those areas for investment
      • reducing people’s reliance on cars, and engaging communities
  • the Agriculture (Wales) White Paper - the recently published White Paper includes recommendations on future sustainable land use

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Cadw; the Department for Transport; the Department of Education (ROI); the DWP; HM Revenue & Customs; The Planning Inspectorate; the Welsh European Funding Office and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of the Senedd Cymru and Welsh Parliament and senior officials from the Welsh Government, and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from planning bodies, representatives of local government, planning lawyers, engineering and planning consultancies, surveyors, construction sector representatives, infrastructure providers including digital infrastructure, community groups, businesses and their associations, and specialist academics, together with reporters from the national and trade media based in Wales and elsewhere.


This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference



Keynote Speakers

Tony Thickett

Head, Planning Inspectorate Wales

Dr Roisin Willmott

Director of Wales and Northern Ireland, Royal Town and Planning Institute (RTPI)

Keynote Speakers

Tony Thickett

Head, Planning Inspectorate Wales

Dr Roisin Willmott

Director of Wales and Northern Ireland, Royal Town and Planning Institute (RTPI)

Chair

Ruth Jones MP

Shadow Minister for the Natural Environment and Air Quality and Member, Welsh Affairs Committee

Speakers

Ron Beattie

Managing Director, Beattie Passive Build System

Natalie Rees

Sustainable Development Manager, Transport for Wales

Councillor Caro Wild

Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, Cardiff Council

Andrew Goodacre

Chief Executive, British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA)

Chris Johnes

Chief Executive, Building Communities Trust

Gareth Elliott

Head of Policy and Communications, Mobile UK

Stephanie Irvine

Senior Planner, Lichfields

John Davies

President, NFU Cymru

David Jones

Stakeholder Director UK, Simply Blue Energy

Sarah Featherstone

Architect and co-Director, Featherstone Young, and Team Member, Velocity

Jen Heal

Design Advisor, Design Commission for Wales

Chris Sutton

Director, Sutton Consulting, and past Chair, CBI Wales

Professor Alan Felstead

Research Professor, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University