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.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

The future for planning policy in Wales - the proposed strategy, supporting clean economic growth, and serving the changing needs of work and communities


***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference will examine the way forward for planning policy in Wales.

The conference will be an opportunity to discuss Future Wales - the National Plan 2040, which outlines a National Spatial Strategy for Wales and sets out where development over the next twenty years should be focused in order to address key national priorities through the planning system.

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

It 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 address 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.

Areas in the agenda include:

  • priorities and key issues for delivering the National Plan 2040
  • what is needed from planning policy to help underpin the drive for regional economic growth in the wake of the pandemic
  • aligning development and planning with net-zero ambitions
  • priorities for the new planning inspectorate

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

The relevant background:

  • Future Wales - the National Plan 2040 - the recent publication of Wales’ first National Spatial Strategy, 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
  • the new Planning Inspectorate for Wales - expected to become operational this October, to replace the current joint England and Wales Inspectorate, with the aim of meeting the specific needs of Wales, with planning policy 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
  • 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 where 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 forward 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
      • to reduce 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
      • to reduce people’s reliance on cars and to engage communities
  • the Agriculture (Wales) White Paper - the recently published White Paper includes recommendations on future sustainable land use

Key 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
      • with 110,000 homes expected to be needed in Wales in the period up to 2040, and 7,400 homes required annually over the next five years
      • 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 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
    • 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, which are 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

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Department of Education (ROI); the DWP; 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 conferenc

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

Shortly after every Policy Forum for Wales seminar, a briefing document is produced. This is distributed to all delegates on the day as well as to our policymaker contacts in government, and to stakeholders more widely.

A seminar publication provides a timely record of proceedings, and acts as a guide to the latest thinking on current policy issues for those unable to be at the event.

This publication includes


Contributions from keynotes and panellists, including accompanying slides*
*Subject to approval

Delegate Pack

Information from the day, including delegate list, biographies and agenda


Transcript of questions and comments posed to speakers from attending delegates


Supplementary articles from speakers
and delegates