A better resourced and stronger planning system is essential if ambitions for a sustainable future for Wales are to be achieved, Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Cymru has said.
In a document detailing its asks of the parties ahead of Senedd elections in May, RTPI Cymru acknowledges that there is increasing acceptance among politicians that the planning system and Wales’s sustainable development ambitions are linked.
But it warns these ambitions will be impossible to achieve unless Local Planning Authorities are better resourced to fund more public sector planners, specialist knowledge and more efficient digital technologies.
Director of RTPI Cymru Roisin Willmott OBE FRTPI (pictured) said:
“Wales is in a good position thanks to a strong national planning policy framework, a world-leading Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, and an increasing recognition that the planning system sets the context for development and creates the conditions in Wales which enable a sustainable and healthy built environment.
“However, like any good public service, the planning system requires resources and capacity to deliver outcomes efficiently, effectively and equitably.
“With total expenditure on planning services falling by 50% in Wales over the past decade, financial support is urgently required to help support a shift to a more proactive and strategic planning system. Only then will the Welsh Government be able to deliver on its ambitions on sustainability.”
As well as the issue of resourcing, RTPI Cymru says parties need to give more attention to long-term decision making, particularly looking at climate mitigation and resilience actions that will be a critical part of the transition to net zero.
It also says there should be a continued focus in Wales on the principles of ‘placemaking’ – people and community, location, movement, mix of uses, public realm and identity – as outlined in the recently-published Placemaking Wales Charter.
By focusing on placemaking, RTPI Cymru says, the parties will be able to deliver on plans for high-quality, affordable and healthy homes in the right places across Wales, an effective active travel infrastructure and vibrant town centres.
All of RTPI Cymru’s asks are underpinned by its support of community engagement at all levels of the planning system, including the increased use of new mechanisms for digital engagement to reach out to under-represented groups.