National Growth Areas, a town centre first approach and keeping working people in rural areas are all part of a new 20 year plan for Wales.
Housing and Local Government Minister Julie James has launched Future Wales – The National Plan 2040.
This sets out where housing, employment and infrastructure should be developed to support town and city centres and achieve decarbonisation and climate resilience.
It says that in three National Growth Areas there will be focused growth in employment and housing opportunities and investment in infrastructure.
The National Growth Areas are Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys, Swansea Bay and Llanelli, Wrexham and Deeside.
They are supported by regional growth areas like the coastal towns of North Wales, from Rhyl to Holyhead in North Wales.
There are no specific job creation targets for each area.
Welsh Government said that by focusing large scale growth on the urban areas, development pressures can be channelled away from the countryside and productive agricultural land can be protected.
They said there would be a “town centre first” approach with councils getting tools to refuse planning permission for new out of town retail parks and other developments that would be better located in town centres.
Significant new commercial, retail, education, health, leisure and public service facilities must be located within town and city centres.
In rural areas they said the focus would be on trying to reverse depopulation – looking at affordable housing, and employment in traditional areas like agriculture and forestry and taking advantage of new technology.
The report adds: “In particular, tourism and leisure is recognised as a major and growing employer and contributor to the Welsh rural economy. Sustainable forms of tourism, including opportunities for active, green and cultural tourism, should be explored.”
It says: “Strategic and Local Development Plans should consider existing and potential new tourism areas, the type of visitors they attract and the infrastructure required to support growth.”
They said the increasing ability to work from home and remotely from main offices may result in higher demand to live in rural areas and opportunities to retain the working age population.
It says regions should work together to identify ways to develop stronger strategic transport links between rural areas and larger towns and cities for mutual economic benefit.
The Welsh Government said it will support and invest in improving national connectivity by reducing road travel times and transforming the rail network, which includes metro systems.
They said it had ambitions of reducing the train travel time between Cardiff to London to 85 minutes and between Llandudno and Crewe to a hour, as well as improving north-south connections.
It says the Welsh Government supports Cardiff’s status as an internationally competitive city but also supports an increased strategic role for Newport as a focus for sustainable, long‑term growth and investment.
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The report says Cardiff must generate and support regional growth throughout the South East while enhancing its status as a vibrant capital city of Wales.
In Swansea and Llanelli the report says there should be a focus on strategic economic and housing growth; essential services and facilities; advanced manufacturing; transport and digital infrastructure.
On North Wales, it says the Strategic Development Plan should seek to maximise opportunities in Wrexham and Deeside from investment in high value manufacturing sectors – supporting major employers like Airbus.
It adds: “Welsh Government supports north west Wales as a location for new energy development and investment.”
Julie James said: “We have already committed to a ‘Town Centre First’ approach, which means locating services and buildings in town centres wherever possible. This plan will help to deliver it.
“This plan sets out our priorities for growth in employment and housing, in particular affordable housing. It sets out a vision for our villages, towns and cities developing at a walkable scale, with homes, local facilities, green spaces and public transport within easy reach.
Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters said: “We have a long-term ambition to see around 30% of the workforce in Wales working from home or working remotely.
“We know that if people have more flexibility in where they work, they can avoid a lengthy commute, reduce road congestion, which plays a part in improving air quality.
“As part of our ‘Transforming Towns’ vision we hope to capture the benefits for our towns and communities and create new opportunities for regeneration and economic activity.”
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