NEWPORT City Council has begun the lengthy process of reviewing and replacing the existing blueprint for developing land in and around the city.
The current local development plan expires in 2026 and will take between three to five years to replace.
The plan helps to decide on planning applications and is the local guide to what can be built and where – allocating land for housing, employment, and education.
In the council’s annual general meeting, it was agreed to submit the timetable and review report for the replacement plan to Welsh Government. Once Welsh Government approves this then the process would formally begin to replace the plan.
The review report sets out an overview of the issues that would be considered when creating the replacement plan. This includes, for example, any policy changes, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, tourism, and flood risk.
The council has already undertaken a public consultation, seeking views of what the key issues are. There will be a chance further down the line for the general public to have a say on where developments should or shouldn’t take place.
Councils in Wales are required to review their development plans every four years, but Newport was able to extend this because at the time it “was not considered necessary” after discussions with the Welsh Government.
The current plan, which came into effect in 2015 is now six years old and a report says, “it is considered that a review is now needed in order to ensure that the plan continues to respond to the challenges and opportunities in Newport”.
The report says that many of Newport’s larger housing sites “have now been successfully completed” and there is a need to “identify further growth sites”.
The current plan expires in 2026 and there is a danger that if a review doesn’t take place now then Newport will be without any policy, which could effectively mean there is nothing to prevent planning applications from getting approved.
The Council’s Cabinet agreed in October 2020 to review the current plan and launched a public consultation on the review in March.
The council has agreed to submit this and the delivery agreement, which includes the timetable, to the Welsh Government. It is expected that this will be approved, and the formal commencement of the plan can begin later this month.
This would then trigger stage two of the eight-stage process.
The second stage focuses on building up the necessary information to create a draft. In stage three a preferred strategy will beb created, while stage four is creating a draft plan.
Stage five requires submitting the draft to the Welsh Government, stage six sees it examined, while stage seven is the release of the inspector’s report.
If all goes according to plan then the final stage will take place in February 2025, which will see the local development plan adopted.
The replacement plan will cover the period 2021-2036.
The initial consultation saw 25 stakeholders have their say on the plans.
There were calls in the consultation to protect the Gwent levels from any further developments, with the “impact of the large renewable energy schemes” being a “real concern”.
Support for developments on brownfield sites was also mentioned in the consultation. Brownfield land is any previously developed land that is not currently in use that may be contaminated.
Unsurprisingly there was mention of the current coronavirus pandemic and how the plan could help aid the city’s recovery.
The importance of the regeneration of the city centre was also raised.
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