Welsh government floats retail policy tweaks

Local planning authorities in Wales would be expected to develop stronger retail strategies in their local development plans, under proposals in a new consultation on proposals aimed at maintaining town-centre vitality.

Construction of St David's shopping centre, Cardiff (picture by Jon Candy, Flickr)
Construction of St David's shopping centre, Cardiff (picture by Jon Candy, Flickr)

The Welsh government has floated a range of changes to Planning Policy Wales (PPW) and Technical Advice Note 4 (TAN4) as part of a bid to ensure that town centres get as much help to thrive as possible in a rapidly changing retail environment.

Its proposed changes to chapter 10 of PPW and the revised version of TAN4 follow recommendations of a review by consultant Genecon last year.

They include a requirement for "stronger emphasis" to be placed on the need for local development plans to have policies framed by retail strategies, a recognition that local planning policy should have the flexibility to reflect market changes, a requirement for local development plans to "set out a locally derived hierarchy of centres", and the introduction of clearer guidance on uses that are subject to the sequential test.

According to the consultation document, the new policy and guidance underscores the key role councils have in maintaining the vitality of their retail centres.

"As local authorities are best placed to determine local need and local solutions, the Welsh government has asked them to take on the role of ‘lead partner’ to bring forward coherent schemes to tackle the decline of our town centres and coastal communities," it says.

"[The Welsh government] has created a suite of interventions to help achieve the vision, including the main Vibrant and Viable Places Programme, which will see 11 local authorities share £102 million over three years."

The full consultation documents can be read here.

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