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Welsh Conservatives

The Welsh Conservatives published their manifesto on the 18 April 2016. Please see the main points that relate to planning and the built environment below. Read the full document here.

Housing

  • Launch an ambitious programme of home-building, recognising the need to deliver 70,000 new homes over the next Assembly term, stimulating a whole-market approach and providing new properties for rent, low-cost home ownership and open market purchase.
  • Introduce a 'Healthy Homes, Healthy People' energy efficiency Wales programme for fuel poor households.
  • Protect the right to buy for tenants wanting to buy their council home, restoring the full discount.
  • Reinvest the proceeds from Right to Buy into new social housing, increasing the number of people who are able to find a home to meet their needs.
  • Offer housing associations the choice of providing Right to Buy to tenants where this would help delivery of individual housing schemes.
  • Extend Help to Buy to properties in need of renovation, helping to rejuvenate communities and stimulate local construction firms.
  • Develop a 'Starter Home Cymru' scheme to deliver properties below market value for firsttime buyers.
  • Encourage participation in the UK Government's 'Help to Buy: ISA'
  • Implement a rent to buy scheme, to make home ownership more accessible.
  • Work with the privately-rented sector to develop social letting agencies – linked to proper accreditation standards – as social enterprises to meet the needs of the hardest to house.
  • Deliver an empty homes strategy, bringing properties back into use.
  • Support Rural Housing Enablers to deliver affordable rural housing that meets local need.
  • Amend planning rules to help housing associations meet local needs by building starter homes for purchase and homes for rent on rural exception sites.
  • Reform planning guidance to encourage building on brownfield and publicly-owned land, supporting a land-for-housing scheme, and developing a national register of contaminated land sites to avoid inappropriate development.
  • Devolve more planning responsibilities to local communities, giving them a greater say and redressing the balance between local need and central targets.
  • Commit to achieving the Welsh Housing Quality Standard by 2020, recognising its potential for economic and social regeneration.
  • Link new and renovated housing supply to sustainable community regeneration, by working with social landlords to meet public health needs.
  • Work with the construction industry to embrace safety and energy efficiency, whilst cutting unnecessary red tape to encourage house building.

Economy

  • Establish an industry-led body to encourage business development and investment in Wales.
  • Introduce a new regional development bank, reforming financial support delivered by the Welsh Government, with localised access to finance for small businesses.
  • Aim to deliver universal super-fast broadband and mobile coverage across Wales by 2019,improving connectivity.
  • Seek to devolve key economic levers to North Wales, establishing a North Wales Powerhouse to inspire locally-led economic growth.
  • Back the City Deal bid for the Swansea Bay City Region, realising the area's economic potential.
  • Work with the UK Government in building a new innovation centre, helping to secure Wales'position as a world leader in science.

Transport Infrastructure

  • Create a new arm's-length body to deliver an integrated transport system and ensure a consistent, Wales-wide approach to improving infrastructure.
  • Assess and re-prioritise Wales' National Transport Plan, implementing a new, long-term strategy for our road, rail and public transport networks.
  • Back a new smart card travel scheme, for use on different modes of public transport throughout Wales.

Road

  • Work with the UK Government to improve cross-border connectivity and associated transport infrastructure.
  • Progress the Cardiff Bay link road as part of the Cardiff City Deal, in conjunction with plans for the South Wales Metro.
  • Start work on an M4 Relief Road within 12 months of forming a government.
  • Develop plans to secure funding for dualling the A40 to Fishguard.
  • Improve traffic flow on the A55, ensuring better connectivity across North Wales.
  • Add a Dinas Powys bypass into the National Transport Plan.
  • Conduct an updated safety review on the A44.
  • Bring forward plans to construct a third Menai crossing, which would  alleviate traffic congestion to and from Ynys Mon.

Rail

  • Work with the UK Government to deliver electrification of the South Wales Main Line and Valley Lines as soon as possible and back electrification of the North Wales Line.
  • Commission a feasibility study on extending the South Wales Metro further west.
  • Work with the UK Government to deliver new rail links to the North West of England, including improved access to Manchester and Liverpool Airports.

Air

  • Work with the UK Government to deliver the rail spur to Heathrow Airport, improving journey times to the UK's busiest airport.

Buses

  • Restore funding denied to the Bus Services Support Grant, expanding public transport routes, increasing connectivity and tackling rural isolation.

Cycling

  • Include consideration of cycle paths in plans for road infrastructure and large residential developments.
  • Introduce a public campaign to promote safer cycling and encourage cycling to work.

The High street

  • Promote free town centre parking and the benefits of a responsible night time economy.
  • Highlight the role of town centre managers in improving the high street experience.
  • Stimulate inclusive, community-led regeneration ideas.
  • Create a Welsh High Street Charter, helping local authorities to share best practice.

Supporting the steel industry

  • Consider establishing an Urban Development Corporation to support the wider regeneration of Port Talbot.

Public services in rural Wales

  • Reform the local government funding formula to ensure the challenges of delivering public services in rural Wales are accurately reflected.
  • Designate specific ministerial responsibility for North, Mid and West Wales to represent the needs of rural communities around the Cabinet table.
  • Introduce an independent panel to scrutinise the impact of Welsh Government policies on rural areas prior to implementation, to ensure that all communities of Wales are considered fairly.
  • Aim to deliver universal super-fast broadband and mobile coverage across Wales by 2019, tackling rural isolation and improving connectivity.
  • Reform the planning system for communications infrastructure to make it easier to upgrade existing sites and build on new sites, subject to local approval.
  • Implement plans to support the future of market towns, protecting their historic status in Wales and strategic role in local economies.
  • Review the Rural Development Programme to make support more accessible to farmers and micro-businesses.
  • Guarantee local communities the right to bid to take over important rural services –including post offices, pubs and village halls.

Environment

  • Designate areas of high flood risk as Blue Belt land to prevent irresponsible development, holding planning authorities to account when granting planning permission within these zones.
  • Commission an independent assessment of the robustness of Wales' coastal and inland defences and their maintenance, to inform a national flood prevention strategy.
  • Develop annually-reviewed local flood response plans.
  • Develop a marine energy strategy to promote Wales as a location for pioneering viable tidal lagoon development and supply chain technologies.
  • Support the roles of Dŵr Cymru and Severn Trent as statutory planning consultees.
  • Ensure Natural Resources Wales' planting plans take into account flood mitigation measures.
  • Introduce a statutory deadline for Natural Resources Wales to make decisions on the granting of marine licences.
  • Allow farmers and landowners to take responsible local action - such as dredging to prevent flooding.
  • Simplify and introduce directly elected members to national park authorities.

Carbon management

  • Scrap planning guidance which promotes cumulative impact and over-dependence on wind farms, and encourage a variety of renewable energy production.
  • Publish a strategy on carbon economic planning to provide green jobs for the future.
  • Implement annual reviews of carbon emissions in Wales to enable better monitoring of internationally agreed targets.
  • Continue the Welsh Government's existing policy related to ministerial determination of planning applications for hydraulic fracking.
  • Work with the UK Government to secure the devolution of responsibilities concerning the licensing of fracking.
  • Work with the construction industry to upgrade skills and prioritise appropriate retrofitting and insulating of older properties to cut carbon emissions.

Natural Environment

  • Legislate to reinstate higher statutory protection for internationally agreed definitions of landscape, biodiversity and ecosystems.

Empowering Local Communities

  • Work with the UK Government, local authorities, business groups and voluntary organisations to devolve power and unlock the economic potential of North Wales through the development of a North Wales Powerhouse.
  • Introduce the 'Right to Bid', enabling community organisations to adopt locally important assets.
  • Allow local authority mergers only with the expressed consent of the public through a referendum.
  • Introduce a Welsh Localism and Citizenship Bill to inspire a nation of active, involved citizens, embracing the skills and power of local residents, associations and institutions in building confident, resilient communities and better services.
  • Publish an annual 'State of the Seaside'report, to inform on regeneration plans and support seaside communities in reaching their full potential.

Local Government

  • Review town and community council structures, giving them greater participation in the planning process, devolving more planning  responsibilities to local communities and redressing the balance between community need and central targets.
  • Reduce the number of decisions made in meetings from which the public is excluded.  Encourage councillors to improve public engagement by publishing annual reports, and allowing public questions at full council meetings.
  • Introduce live streaming of local authority meetings of full council, cabinet and scrutiny committees.

Culture and Heritage

  • Consolidate heritage legislation, introducing local listing to protect buildings and spaces important to local identity, and stronger penalties for desecrating war memorials.
  • Explore the benefits to the historic environment of removing Cadw from Welsh Government control.
  • Review the economic and regenerative impact of Welsh culture and heritage to develop a new strategy.

International

  • Support the Wales for Africa programme, developing partnership arrangements and promoting international sustainable development.

A Welsh Conservative Government will deliver the following core legislative programme for Wales (relevant to Planning and the Built environment):

  • Housing Access Bill
  • Localism and Citizenship Bill
  • Tourism Bill
  • Wildlife Bill