“Once in a generation opportunity to reset the clock” – Minister sets out Welsh Government’s planning policy for a post- COVID world

Retaining the positive changes driven by the coronavirus pandemic is central to the Welsh Government’s new planning policy, published today.

Boosting digital services in areas where current provision is poor to ensure everybody in Wales can stay connected; and making sure well-designed communities can reap the benefits of home working, which include reduced traffic and cleaner air, are at the heart of Building Better Places – The Planning System Delivering Resilient and Brighter Futures,

These are among eight main issues highlighted by the pandemic which are addressed in the document, which also advocates:

  • creating mixed use, sustainable communities with a mixture of housing (include social housing) and services;
  • capturing active travel opportunities;
  • revitalising our town centres by creating flexible town centre buildings and making the most of outdoor space opportunities;
  • reopening the tourism and sector and providing guidance on readjusting to social distancing;
  • ensuring access to green spaces and opportunities to connect with the natural and historic environment; and
  • improving air quality and soundscapes for better health and well-being.

Julie James said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic and our collective response to the issues it raises, is one of the most complicated challenges in a generation. We have all had to do things differently – whether that’s working from home, taking part in online school lessons or keeping in touch with friends and family online.

“As we emerge from this crisis, we must ensure we retain the best elements of the changes that have occurred around us. In this recovery period, we must continue to strive for quality in our built environments. We cannot let these standards drop or go for short-term economic gains over longer term well-being objectives.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us to reset the clock and think again about the places in which we want to live, work and play. We need to rebuild a society that respects our environment, whilst giving people good places to live and which are accessible on foot, bike and public transport.

“This document sets out our vision for achieving this and pinpoints the most relevant policy priorities and actions to aid in the recovery. We cannot, however, do this alone. We need to work together with the development industry, local planning authorities, public bodies and the third sector to grasp this opportunity to deliver high-quality development in the right place.

“We all have our part to play to ensure that the communities of tomorrow benefit from the experience of today.”