Second Deposit LDP
4. Carmarthenshire – Strategic Context
4.1 Carmarthenshire is positioned at the heart of South-west Wales. It enjoys strong links to wider economies both to the east and across into England, but also west to Pembrokeshire and Ireland as well mid and north Wales. Carmarthenshire boasts a dynamic economic base, reflecting its strong employment centres as well as a having an important rural economy. The County has been successful in attracting investment, and places regeneration as its number one corporate priority.
4.2 The County is characterised by its diverse towns and villages, large employment parks, regional retail centres, prominent rural economy, and attractive upland, estuarine and coastal landscapes. The Welsh language and culture are also important aspects of Carmarthenshire's identity and character with the County prominent as a heartland for Welsh speakers.
4.3 Within the County there are key economic drivers including the investments at Cross Hands in relation to the food park and the Cross Hands East employment site. The signing of the £1.24 billion city deal in 2017 and the progress in delivering the associated projects - Yr Egin Creative Cluster in Carmarthen and the Llanelli Well-being and Life Sciences project at Pentre Awel. The creation of the Swansea Bay City Region brought together a wide, diverse, and contrasting area with the focus on driving investment and job creation opportunities.
4.4 As a primarily rural County, the population density is low at 78 persons per sq. kilometre, compared with 140 persons per sq. kilometre for Wales as a whole. This sparsity of population is reflective of the largely rural communities as opposed to the south and east of the County where 65% of the population reside on 35% of the land. Carmarthenshire is a County with a diverse character with the agricultural economy and landscape of the rural areas juxtaposed with the urban and post-industrial south-eastern area.
4.5 The main urban centres of the County include Llanelli, Carmarthen, and Ammanford / Cross Hands. Carmarthen due to its central geographic location typically serves the needs of the County's rural hinterland as well as the wider region in aspects such as retailing. Both Llanelli and Ammanford / Cross Hands have a rich industrial heritage but remain important contributors to their wider communities acting a focal point for employment and homes.
4.6 The County has a large number of settlements reflecting the size and diversity of the County. These vary in size and role with many often-making notable contributions to the needs and requirements of their community and the surrounding area. A number of settlements and villages are self-sufficient in terms of facilities and services, often fulfilling a wider service role. However, other smaller settlements lack services and facilities. The needs of residents in these latter areas are typically met by main centres and in some instances the other serviced smaller settlements.
Well-being and Sustainable Development
4.7 The Plan has been prepared with full consideration of the content of the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 and the Council's duties to work towards Wales' seven wellbeing goals and the need to contribute to sustainable development and management of natural resources (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Seven Well-being Goals
4.8 The Well-being of Future Generations Act also establishes 'Five Ways of Working' which public bodies need to demonstrate they have carried out in undertaking their sustainable development duty.
Figure 2: Five Ways of Working
4.9 PPW identifies that the plan-led approach is the most effective way to secure sustainable development (through the planning system) and it is essential that plans are adopted and kept under review. In this respect legislation secures a presumption in favour of sustainable development in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise to ensure that social, economic, cultural, and environmental issues are balanced and integrated.
4.10 As referenced above, the 2nd Deposit LDP has been subject to an ISA (incorporating SA/SEA) with the purpose of improve the extent to which the Plan achieves and contributes to sustainable development, in so far as is possible through the land use planning system. The ISA has been an iterative process throughout the Plan's preparation, and this is reflected in the Plan's growth strategy, policies, and proposals.
4.11 Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The concept can be interpreted in many ways, but at its core is an approach to development that looks to balance different, often competing, needs against an awareness of environmental, social, economic, and cultural limitations.
4.12 Although environmental considerations are central to the principle of sustainable development, it is also about ensuring a strong, healthy, and just society, and meeting the needs of all people now and in the future. This includes promoting personal well-being, social cohesion and creating equal opportunities.
4.13 The Well-being of Future Generations Act places a duty on public bodies to carry out sustainable development and requires an improvement in the delivery of all four aspects of well-being: social, economic, environmental, and cultural.
www.thecarmarthenshirewewant.wales. The Carmarthenshire Well-being Plan outlines the Public Service Board's local objectives for improving the economic, social, environmental, and cultural well-being of the County and the steps it proposes to take to meet them. Carmarthenshire's Well-being Plan covers a period between 2018-2023, with objectives and actions identified to look at delivery on a longer-term basis of up to 20-years.4.14 The Carmarthenshire Well-being Assessment (March 2017) looked at the economic, social, environmental, and cultural wellbeing in Carmarthenshire through different life stages and provides a summary of the key findings. The findings of this assessment form the basis of the objectives and actions identified in the Well-being Plan for Carmarthenshire. The Assessment can be viewed via the following link:
4.15 The Carmarthenshire Well-being Plan will focus on the delivery of four objectives:
Figure 3: Carmarthenshire Well-being Plan: Four Objectives
Strategic Planning Context
4.16 The Plan sits within the framework of other relevant National Planning Policy and Guidance, and other regional and local policies and strategies. These are set out in the Appendices to the Plan.
4.17 Of particular note is PPW Edition 11 which sets out the national land use planning policies of the Welsh Government. It is supplemented by Technical Advice Notes (TANs); procedural advice given in circulars; and policy clarification letters.
4.18 National Planning Policy and Guidance is not repeated within the policies of the plan but must be taken into account when developing proposals and in the consideration of planning applications. The Deposit LDP has regard to Future Wales: the national plan 2040 and its content and policies at an all Wales level and within the South-west Region.
4.19 The plan has and will continue to take account of the strategic regional objectives as currently set out within Future Wales. In this respect it aligns with the strategic approach set out through the Swansea Bay City Region which was launched in 2013.
4.20 The creation of the Swansea Bay City Region brought together a wide, diverse and contrasting area with the focus on driving investment and job creation opportunities. This was further progressed through the signing of the £1.24 billion city deal in 2017 further reinforcing the regions ambitions and Carmarthenshire's strategic and regional importance. The Swansea Bay City Deal is led by the four regional local authorities - Carmarthenshire Council, Swansea Council, Neath Port Talbot Council and Pembrokeshire Council - together with the Swansea Bay University Health Board and Hywel Dda University Health Board, Swansea University, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, and private sector partners.
4.21 The total investment package is made up of £235.7 million UK and Welsh Government funding, £373.7 million other public sector investment, and £629.67 million from the private sector. Over the lifetime of the City Deal's 15 years portfolio, it will seek to boost the regional economy by £1.8bn and generate over 9,000 new jobs across the region.
4.22 The City Deal projects are based on key themes of Economic Acceleration, Life Science and Well-being, Energy, and Smart Manufacturing. Each project will be supported by world class digital infrastructure and a Skills and Talent initiative that will give local people a pathway to access the jobs that will be created.
.4.23 The ambitions nature within the region and of that of the City Deal are reflected within the Council's own strategic outlook. In this respect the Council's regeneration plan seeks to provide a strategic framework for the delivery of regeneration projects across the County building on the partnership led approach in creating economically vibrant communities
Figure 4: Swansea Bay City Deal
Social and Cultural
4.24 Carmarthenshire is home to around 6% of Wales' total population with 187,900 people. Since 2011, the County has seen its population grow by 4,100 people, a 2.2% increase in 10 years. This is higher than the overall increase for Wales (1.4%)
4.25 The main factor influencing population change in Carmarthenshire since 2001/2002 has been through inward migration, where more people have come into the County than have left. Carmarthenshire has an ageing population, with the number of deaths exceeding births each year since 2001/2002.
4.26 Historic net migration patterns for Carmarthenshire has seen a large number of the 15-19 age group leave the County. This largely reflects students leaving the County for higher education opportunities. There is an increase of people moving into the County within the 30-44 young family age group and the 0-14 year age group. There is also an increase in the over 65 age group which has contributed to Carmarthenshire's ageing population profile.
4.27 Since the inception of the Local Development Plan process in Wales, the Welsh Government has published five population and household projections. The 2006 and 2008 WG based projections have been influenced by high net migration statistics (internal and international) which identified significant growth for Carmarthenshire (as reflected in the Adopted LDP). However, the WG 2011 and 2014-based projections reflected a post-recession phase which indicated a lower in-migration trend which has translated into a much lower anticipated household growth requirement for Carmarthenshire.
4.28 The Welsh Government 2018-based household projections estimates that average household sizes are not decreasing as quickly as early projections suggested. This higher estimate of household sizes coupled with the changes in population growth within the County has resulted in a much lower anticipated household requirement from that identified in the existing adopted LDP. This Revised LDP seeks to place these projections within a Carmarthenshire context and develop a set of projections for change and growth that reflect the needs and aspirations for Carmarthenshire and its communities.
4.29 There are significant variations across the County in terms of social indicators of deprivation, including access to health, education and community services and facilities; and housing quality as indicated by data from the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation (WIMD). Some communities lack a social hub and/or key facilities to act as a community focus. Others have a range of services and facilities that contribute to vibrant community life. A more equitable distribution is needed. This to some extent reflects the rural character of the County. In this context many rural communities access facilities in nearby settlement or higher order centres. This is reflective of a pattern of rural life now common across Wales. This need to reflect this pattern and recognise the need to sustain such rural communities is a key factor across the County and within this plan.
4.30 With 78,048 Welsh speakers amongst its population, Carmarthenshire is the county with the highest number of Welsh speakers in Wales and has the fourth highest proportion of Welsh speakers at 43.9% (2011 Census data). There is therefore a clear strategic focus on the central role it plays within Carmarthenshire and its communities.
4.31 The image below shows the distribution of Welsh speakers per Electoral ward as recorded in the 2011 Census data. Whilst there is no obvious concentration of Welsh speakers in any particular area, it is apparent that a number of wards with a higher proportion of Welsh speakers are located in the Amman and Gwendraeth Valleys which are located in the cluster identified as the 'Amman and Upper Gwendraeth'.
Figure 5: % of Welsh speakers in Carmarthenshire Electoral Wards (Census 2011 figures)
4.32 It is however noted that the proportion of Welsh speakers in Carmarthenshire has been steadily declining since the turn of the last century and the decline in proportion of Welsh speakers in Carmarthenshire has been recorded by every Census since 1901. More recently, during the period between the 1991 and 2011 Censuses, the percentage of Welsh speakers in Carmarthenshire has decreased from 54.9% to 43.9%. This will be updated to reflect the publication of the forthcoming 2021 Census data and changes in the percentage of Welsh language speakers within the County. Given the Welsh languages importance, including to the social fabric, across our communities it is important that it is recognised and safeguarded. In this respect the Plan recognises the whole County as linguistically sensitive.
4.33 The Council's corporate ambitions for growth and regeneration as expressed through its regeneration strategy and the Swansea City Deal indicates a potential for a minimum of 5,295 new jobs. This reflects an ambitious County strategically positioned at the gateway to west Wales and central to the City Deal.
4.34 Indeed the future economic development of the County should be viewed in the wider context. The Swansea Bay City Deal was signed in 2017, securing £1.24 billion for Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire councils. It is anticipated that the deal will transform the economic landscape of the area, boost the economy, and generate almost 10,000 new jobs over the next 15 years.
.4.35 This growth potential is also in part recognised within the Future Wales and the overlap into the south-west of the County of the South-west National Growth Area with its focus on Swansea Bay and the Llanelli Area as well as the Regional Growth status of Carmarthen
4.36 Since the publication of the Swansea Bay City Region Economic Regeneration Strategy in 2013, the economic and policy context has changed considerably at the Welsh and UK level. This has been brought into particular focus following the UK's decision to leave the European Union and the impact of the covid-19 pandemic. This changing contextual landscape also now includes the advent of the new Corporate Joint Committees, and the preparation of new Regional Economic Frameworks by Welsh Government. These Frameworks set out visions and high-level priorities for each region in Wales.
4.37 To respond to changing circumstances, the four local authorities in South-west Wales, in partnership with Welsh Government, produced a new Regional Economic Delivery Plan (REDP) which will replace the previous Swansea Bay City Region Economic Regeneration Strategy.
4.38 The Council's Economic Recovery Plan (April 2021) identifies some 30 actions to support the recovery of the Carmarthenshire economy from the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit. It sets out the Council's priorities for supporting Business, People and Places. With this support, Carmarthenshire's economy can recover as quickly as possible to become one which is more productive than before, more equal, greener, healthier, and with more sustainable communities.
4.39 The economic modelling shows how COVID-19 has and is likely to continue to impact on the Carmarthenshire economy. There remains a high level of uncertainty around the pattern of the recovery, as well as the impact of Brexit, so the Plan is short-term and flexible, focusing on the critical period of recovery over 24 months, and is in alignment with Welsh Government's reconstruction priorities.
4.40 The purpose of the Economic Recovery Plan is to set out the short-term priorities and immediate actions over the two years that protect jobs and safeguard businesses in Carmarthenshire in response to COVID-19 and the immediate impacts of Brexit.
4.41 A buoyant rural economy is needed to support the overall growth of the County, and to help sustain community life. Sustainable tourism provides a key means of delivering this growth and providing good quality local jobs, as do the opportunities presented through farm diversification schemes.
4.42 Employment land opportunities are required for a range of potential enterprises and investments, from small-scale local concerns to large-scale strategic development areas that may appeal to inward investors. Such opportunities can be delivered through existing employment land and through new sustainable allocations in appropriate locations.
4.43 With the over-representation of public sector jobs within the county, the additional jobs required over the Plan period will need to be delivered through development that promotes and diversifies growth across sectors, and re-orientates the economy towards high quality, skilled and knowledge-based sectors.
4.44 The LDP invitation for candidate sites saw the submission of over 40 sites for employment or mixed use. Whilst some of these are allocations in the first LDP and have been carried forward into the Revised LDP, others might be appropriate as unallocated 'reserve' sites which could, where they are appropriate and sustainable, potentially serve as locations for future employment and job creation.
4.45 The richness of Carmarthenshire's natural and cultural environment is an important spatial consideration in planning for the future of the County, particularly in terms of the potential for growth and the siting of development. Carmarthenshire is justly renowned for its magnificent coast, quiet estuaries, steep wooded valleys, and rugged uplands. Throughout much of the rest of the county there is a patchwork of woodlands and fields, bounded by the hedge-banks that are frequently of historic importance. The sea and seabed around the Carmarthenshire coast are also rich in species, some of which are of considerable economic importance. This natural beauty of the county is a major factor on which the local tourism and recreation industries depend. Biodiversity is therefore fundamental to the physical, economic, and spiritual well-being of all who live and work in Carmarthenshire.
4.46 The Plan area includes sites designated at the international level to protect and enhance important habitats and species, as well as striking landscapes and distinctive historic towns and villages. There are several designated sites for nature conservation and biodiversity importance, including 8 Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), 3 Special Protection Areas (SPA), 1 Ramsar site, 81 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), 5 National Nature Reserves (NNR), 5 Local Nature Reserves (LNR) and 7 Landscapes of Historic Interest.
4.47 SSSI's alone cover some 17,088 Ha, and range in size from small fields to large areas of mountain sides and long rivers. They include habitats such as ancient woodland, flower-rich meadows, wetlands as well as disused quarries and support plant and animal species which are not often seen in the wider countryside.
4.48 The importance of the County's built heritage is borne out by the 27 conservation areas, 366 Scheduled Ancient Monuments (ranging from Prehistoric to post- Medieval/Modern features of cultural historic interest) and the large number of listed buildings.
4.49 Agriculture in Carmarthenshire dominates the rural landscape with the agricultural industry and in particular dairy and sheep farming establishing the County as one of the most important agricultural areas in Wales. According to Agricultural Land Classification, some 203,700 ha of land within Carmarthenshire is classified as agricultural land with the majority classified as grade 3a and 4 with a small tranche of grade 2 land in the south-east of the County.
4.50 Carmarthenshire is well located on the strategic highway network with connections to the west provide links to the Irish ferry ports, which with the M4 forms part of the Trans-European Network. This east-west link is further emphasised by the West Wales railway line which extends from Swansea (and the wider rail network) through to Pembrokeshire via Carmarthen and Llanelli. The West Wales line also forms part of the Trans-European Network linking to and from the Irish Ferry Ports in Pembrokeshire. The Heart of Wales railway line extending from Swansea through eastern parts of the County through to Shrewsbury offers additional transport benefits albeit based on a limited service.
4.51 The County is also served by several A-roads as well as numerous B-classified roads each representing important components of the highway network. Our principal highway network includes the A48 trunk road leading to and from the M4 motorway with its connections through South-east Wales and beyond. Whilst the A40 and A483 trunk roads connect to Mid and North Wales as well as to the Midlands and the North of England. Access into Central and onwards into North Wales is provided via the A484 and the A485.
4.52 Carmarthenshire is and will continue to work across the region as part of collaborative approach including the development of the Regional Transport Plan as part of the functions of the Corporate Joint Committees. In this respect reference is also made to the content of Future Wales and the provisions in relation to the South-west Wales Metro.
4.53 The following table illustrates the nature of the road network including the level of provision which is met through B and lower classification roads. This in part reflects of the rural extent of the County and emphasises the challenges to delivering a sustainable integrated strategy for the area.
Carmarthenshire Road Network – Road Length (Km)
Class A (Trunk)
Class A (County)
Class B and C
4.54 The area is generally well served by public transport through the bus network, albeit with the level and frequency of service subject to variation dependent upon location and destination. In addition, a number of services operate on a 'Hail-&-Ride' basis in rural areas and 'Bwcabus' in the Teifi Valley, such services offer additional accessibility benefits to such areas.
 A strategic regeneration plan for Carmarthenshire 2015-2030 – Transformations - https://www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/media/12180060/strategic-regeneration-plan-for-carmarthenshire-2015-2030-pdf.pdf
 National Development Framework 2020 – 2040 (Consultation Draft)