Second Deposit LDP

Ended on the 14 April 2023
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9. A New Strategy

9.1 The Strategy sets out to deliver the vision and strategic objectives and addressing the key issues that was identified within the LDP Preferred Strategy. The Revised LDP will, as it progresses through to adoption, set out how the changes within Carmarthenshire over the Plan period will be managed and planned for. Through its policies and proposals, the Revised LDP will seek to provide for these changes and the respective levels of growth and identify where such growth will be acceptable. This is achieved through identifying sites for specific land uses whilst protecting and enhancing the County's rich environmental, landscape and built historic interests.

9.2 The preparation of this 2nd Deposit LDP has been informed by national and regional guidance with plans and strategies at all levels contributing, where appropriate, to the development of an emerging evidence and knowledge base. Engagement has also played a central role in preparing the Revised LDP.

A New Spatial Approach

9.3 The Revised LDP recognises the diversity that exists within the County and the need to reflect this in its strategic approach. The Spatial Strategy identifies a settlement hierarchy but sets it within a settlement framework grouped under six clusters. These clusters, and the distribution of growth will focus on sustainable principles, but will also recognise the respective role, function and contribution each settlement has within its particular clusters. Growth will be distributed accordingly to identified centres, whilst the role of smaller settlements within Carmarthenshire to deliver local and sustainable growth is also noted.

9.4 The strategic growth areas reflect the current urban form in the shape of Llanelli, Ammanford/Cross Hands and Carmarthen with their respective sustainability credentials and strong economic drivers from a market demand and delivery perspective. These three growth areas are designated as principal centres and whilst they will receive an appropriate proportion of the anticipated growth, there will be a balanced approach to distribution.

9.5 Other areas will include a focus on Local Growth and Diversification. These areas are those where growth will reflect the community, whilst understanding those wider delivery expectations associated with Plan making (e.g., national policy and guidance). Often incorporating areas which are more rural in character play an integral role not only for the everyday life of their communities but are essential to a vibrant and thriving Carmarthenshire.

9.6 Regeneration and job creation are important components across the County. Allocated sites and the use of policies will provide a framework for the provision of employment and job creation opportunities. This will seek to provide a positive approach to help these areas meet their full potential and build on the opportunities within all of Carmarthenshire's communities. The Strategy is therefore firmly rooted within the "One Carmarthenshire" ethos as set out within the Vision.

9.7 The Plan will use allocations and development limits where appropriate, as well as using policies and criteria to ensure that the right development is in the right place, in addition to preventing unacceptable developments within Carmarthenshire's communities.

9.8 Across the Plan area there will be commonality of policies, however there may be specific variations to allow for a responsive policy approach.

Deliverable Growth

9.9 The new strategy seeks to provide balanced growth centred on the delivery of our communities' needs and the delivery of the region and the Council's strategic and regeneration objectives.

9.10 This LDP will provide the opportunity to deliver 8,822 homes over the Plan period. This is the equivalent of 588 homes per year from 2018 to 2033. This would allow for new homes to be provided in a sustainable manner which supports the aspirations of our communities and provides appropriate flexibility to respond to the Council's affordable housing objectives. This ambitious but deliverable agenda for Carmarthenshire will allow the Plan to build upon the approximately 588 homes being provided per year under the current adopted LDP[39].

9.11 In delivering the number of homes set above, this Preferred Strategy includes an additional flexibility as part of its supply (uplift) to ensure the delivery of sustainable growth and to overcome any potential unforeseen deliverability issues. A 10% flexibility through a further 882 homes, is included. This equates to a housing supply of 9,704 dwellings to deliver the 8,822 homes.

9.12 The new strategy ensures that sufficient opportunity exists to maximise affordable housing provision to support both rural and urban housing needs, whilst providing a strong basis for the provision of a deliverable market housing provision.

9.13 The new strategy provides an opportunity to balance the demographics of the County through the potential retention of, and migration of younger adults into the County, and address some of the issues which could be perceived from an aging population.

9.14 Such an approach will be supported through a strong economic environment with the delivery of a minimum of 4,140 jobs over the Plan period an important component. This supports the Council's, as well as the region's, strategic ambitions in regard to growth and job creation.

9.15 Furthermore, supporting a positive approach to growth within Carmarthenshire will provide the younger demographic a further opportunity to live and work within the County.

Rural Communities

9.16 The rural aspects and settlements of the County have an important role to play in improving the sustainability of the wider geographical area of the county. The Plan's strategy and settlement framework reflects the significant role which the rural communities play by supporting growth of a proportionate scale which can make a positive contribution towards the long-term sustainability and cohesiveness of rural communities and the rural economy.

9.17 The Plan does however, recognise that the location and level of growth in rural areas and communities needs to be proportionate and appropriate, and that an excessive level of development would be to the detriment of such areas. In addressing some of these impacts within the Revised LDP, the Council has undertaken a Rural Housing Needs Assessment which seeks to balance growth against some of the key issues which rural settlements face. The Plan therefore seeks to provide a level of growth required to retain and enhance the services and facilities provided in the County's rural settlements and to provide a suitable level and choice of housing options for the local population in the face of local challenges such as a challenging housing market and the prevalence of second homes and holiday homes.

9.18 The Plan also recognises that development can, if sited and delivered at the appropriate scale, also promote the Welsh language, and enhance rural employment opportunities.

9.19 The plan will seek to control the scale, or rate of growth to ensure the impacts on the local infrastructure and the vitality of the Welsh language are satisfactorily absorbed and mitigated. The Plan will also seek to protect and enhance the countryside and the natural environment.

Rural Economy

9.20 There is a clear recognition that a strong rural economy is essential to support sustainable and vibrant rural communities.

9.21 New enterprises and the expansion of existing business are important in contributing to the growth and stability of rural areas. Many commercial and light manufacturing activities can be located in rural areas without causing unacceptable disturbance or other adverse effects. However, the scale of such uses must also be appropriate. The Plan seeks to recognise these values.

9.22 'Moving Rural Carmarthenshire Forward' represents a significant milestone for the Authority, setting out a strategy for the regeneration of our rural communities. A direct outcome of its recommendations is the 'Ten Towns' initiative which supports the economic recovery and growth of rural towns across the County, including the development of economic growth plans to drive forward an agenda for change for each of the respective towns and their wider hinterland: Cross Hands, Cwmaman, Kidwelly, Laugharne, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llanybydder, Newcastle Emlyn, St. Clears and Whitland.

Regeneration and the Economy

9.23 Carmarthenshire places regeneration and economic growth as an integral part of its strategic ambitions. Its track record in driving and attracting investment has enabled a series of significant developments to be attracted to the County, not least the most recent in the form of Pentre Awel, Llanelli and Yr Egin S4C development in Carmarthen.

9.24 These opportunities have not just driven enhancements within the traditional centres of employment, they have also contributed to significant commercial developments, new placemaking opportunities, building enhancements and new infrastructure, and improving the offer and fabric of the County's communities.

9.25 Whilst many of these interventions have had positive outcomes delivering an economically diverse and sustainable County, it means there are no opportunities for the County to rest on its laurels, and indeed the effects and impacts of Covid is one such issue that has required the authority to reflect and respond. The Council subsequently published its Economic Recovery Plan in April 2021. This identified 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 setting out the support needed to ensure the economy recovers as quickly as possible to become one which is more productive than before, more equal, greener, healthier, and with more sustainable communities.

9.26 The challenging environment in retail affecting some of our town centres requires a variation in approach which reflects a move to 'living' and diverse centres. Those post Covid-19 challenges are reflected clearly in WG's Building Better Places was published on 16th July 2020 which sets out the planning policy priorities in the post Covid-19 recovery phases – a key component of which related to the revitalisation of town centres. The document outlines the need for good, high-quality developments which are guided by placemaking principles. It acknowledges that delivery of good places currently requires Planners to be creative and dynamic.

9.27 This is encapsulated by the proactive approach taken originally within Llanelli Town Centre where the work of the Task Force as part of a broader regeneration centred approach saw the introduction of a Local Development Order (LDO). Whilst this Llanelli example has now expired the approach has been replicated in Carmarthen and Ammanford Town Centres reflecting the broader regeneration ambitions. These ambitions are captured in the Council's Town Centre Regeneration Strategies for Ammanford, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

9.28 The Plan will reflect the important contribution of larger established retail centres but also the important function performed by smaller convenience and comparison provision across what is a diverse set of settlements and communities.

9.29 The Plan will seeks to provide opportunities to maximise investment, and job creation across a range of sectors, including traditional employment, as well as tourism and service sectors. In this respect the Plan seeks to provide a positive framework for the creation of an enhanced economic base with appropriate opportunities for employment and commercial growth.

9.30 The Council is committed to using positive tools such as LDO's where appropriate, to facilitate and enable regeneration and economic development opportunities.

Sustainable Development, Well-being and Climate Change

9.31 The Plan seeks to reflect and promote the principles of Sustainable Development (SD) and to embed the duties set through the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015. The planning system has a long-standing track record in the promotion of SD and in this respect, the LDP will seek to enhance the economic, social and environmental well-being of communities. Following the WG's target of becoming a carbon neutral public sector by 2030, Carmarthenshire County Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and committed to meeting these targets by 2030. As part of this agenda the Plan will play its part in tackling the causes and effects of Climate Change reflecting the contribution of the planning system as a whole

9.32 The LDP seeks to put a policy framework in place which tackles the causes and effects of Climate Change within our communities through the adoption of sustainable principles and development.

9.33 The LDP will promote the principles of sustainability by:

  • Protecting and enhancing biodiversity, townscapes and landscapes;
  • Minimising energy demand and consumption by facilitating the delivery of carbon neutral buildings and homes, including the promotion of the efficient use of resources including directing development to previously developed land wherever possible;
  • Distributing and locating development in accordance with the settlement framework with a view to reducing unwarranted reliance of the private motor car. It will promote sustainable and 'green' travel alternatives building on advances in technology and promotes accessibility to alternative means of travel;
  • The promotion of sustainable waste management;
  • The promotion of sustainable water management (including ensuring a sustainable supply of water resources and water quality, promoting sustainable drainage modes and addressing flooding issues). This includes reducing the vulnerability of communities by ensuring that development is not located in flood risk areas;
  • Promote the enhancement of wellbeing and social inclusion by supporting healthy, accessible and cohesive communities;
  • Supporting the development of a resilient economy and facilitating appropriate future growth; and,
  • The promoting and safeguarding the Welsh language and culture.
  • Decarbonising society, developing a circular economy and making development resilient to climate change.

Placemaking, Infrastructure and Cohesive Communities

9.34 The growth of our communities provides a positive opportunity to develop and deliver a planned and coherent set of developments centred on the needs of communities and providing places where people will ultimately live, work and spend their leisure time.

9.35 The LDP seeks to sustain and enhance existing communities whilst also creating new and sustainable developments. This concept of placemaking is as embedded in PPW and will form a key guiding principle in the future growth of our county and its communities. In this respect placemaking should be seen as part of a sustainable agenda involving all of those with a professional or personal interest in the built and natural environment, which focuses on developing plans, making decisions and delivering developments which contribute to the creation and enhancement of sustainable places[40].

9.36 The Plan recognises the following:

What is Placemaking

“Placemaking” is a holistic approach to the planning and design of development and spaces, focused on positive outcomes. It draws upon an area’s potential to create high quality development and public spaces that promote people’s prosperity, health, happiness, and well being in the widest sense.

Placemaking considers the context, function and relationships between a development site and its wider surroundings. This will be true for major developments creating new places as well as small developments created within a wider place.

Placemaking should not add additional cost to a development, but will require smart, multi‑dimensional and innovative thinking to implement and should be considered at the earliest possible stage. Placemaking adds social, economic, environmental and cultural value to development proposals resulting in benefits which go beyond a physical development boundary and embed wider resilience into planning decisions.

Figure 7 [41]

9.37 Carmarthenshire is a signatory of the Placemaking Charter. This recognises the Council's commitment to support placemaking in all relevant areas of our work and promote the six placemaking principles in the planning, design and management of new and existing places.

Placemaking Wales Charter Signatory

9.38 The County supports an extensive green space network, which is vital to economic, environmental and community well-being. Green and Blue infrastructure refers to utilising elements of the natural environment, such as ecological features, green space, open space and water management systems, to benefit the social, economic, and environmental health of an area. Whilst the Green and Blue Infrastructure approach identifies the natural environment as an asset which developers can utilise to bring about economic growth, it also provides the means whereby these 'assets' can be protected and enhanced. The plan seeks to set a positive agenda through which the value of green and blue infrastructure to the County and its communities can be recognised. In this respect green and blue infrastructure systems are seen as a key element in delivering sustainable development.

9.39 Examples of green and blue infrastructure 'assets' include, for example, parks and gardens, amenity green space (e.g. play areas and sports fields), community growing spaces, allotments, cemeteries, urban green space, green and blue corridors (e.g. rivers, canals, cycle paths), sites of ecological, geological and landscape value, and functional green space such as sustainable urban drainage systems and flood storage areas.

9.40 The Environment (Wales) Act 2016, provides a context for the delivery of multi-functional green and blue infrastructure. Its provision can make a significant contribution to the sustainable management of natural resources, and in particular to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity and the resilience of ecosystems.

9.41 PPW Ed.11 emphasises that the planning system should protect and enhance green and blue infrastructure assets and networks. The plan adopts a strategic and proactive approach to green and blue infrastructure and biodiversity by producing up to date inventories and maps of existing green and blue infrastructure and ecological assets and networks and integrates policies into the Plan.

9.42 The Plan seeks to recognise the rich diversity of Carmarthenshire recognising that this can also pose challenges given the rural characteristics of the County. The Plan will take a balanced view with appropriate regard to the sustainability merits or otherwise of the settlement as well as the respective availability of suitable infrastructure including open space and leisure provision. Where infrastructure is currently inadequate, or the quality is poor, this is not always a justification for resisting development. In the current economic climate, new development can be the most realistic means of addressing such deficiencies or inequalities.

9.43 The council will utilise planning obligations along with a close co-operative arrangement with infrastructure providers, to work with developers to ensure a co-ordinated approach in the delivery of necessary supporting infrastructure.

9.44 The impact of transport accessibility and constraints in the road transport network is an important consideration in creating cohesive and sustainable communities. Accessibility to sustainable transport modes including public transport, cycle paths, and footpaths provide communities with a choice of more sustainable and Active Travel modes. This can help ensure connectivity is available but is considered within the backdrop of a predominately rural and spatially diverse county. The recognition that such areas will maintain a high dependency on the private motor car is noted, however it is recognised that this Plan can provide interventions to help enable a transition to a more sustainable approach to transport. In this respect the improvements in technology for Ultra Low Emission Vehicles is noted and reflected within this Plan.

9.45 The relationship between transport and peak time pollution issues in certain areas have been recognised through the designation of Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA). Such considerations and wider pollution aspects will be considered through the provisions of this Plan and will be considerations in development proposals.

9.46 The availability of modern, fast, secure and affordable telecommunications is an increasingly essential component of modern lives. In particular the impact that poor access to fast and secure broadband on inclusivity and on the creation of prosperous and economically viable communities is noted and recognised in this Plan. Indeed, this is recognised within the Swansea Bay City Region.

9.47 Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW) are responsible for the supply and treatment of water within the County. DCWW are content with the level of growth set out within this Plan but have requested that larger developments in the Llanelli area be subject to a requirement to undertake compensatory surface water removal from the sewer system as part of the granting of planning permission. As a result, this Plan includes a specific policy intervention to this effect. Further information on the Policy's implementation is set out within Supplementary Planning Guidance.

9.48 The Plan recognised the propensity and impacts associated with flood risk across the County and the need to adopt a sustainable approach to flood risk management and avoidance. Consequently, the Plan's policies and proposals appropriately considers and provides a framework for the consideration of such matters alongside those set out in national planning policy.

Environmental Qualities and Areas for Protection

9.49 This LDP focuses development within established settlements, recognising the need to protect the countryside, whilst also making appropriate provision for certain uses (including exceptions proposals) where a rural location is considered essential.

9.50 It seeks to protect and enhance the nature conservation and biodiversity value of Carmarthenshire, including its rich tapestry of habitats and species. It also seeks to protect and enhance the built and historic environment of the County; those features which contribute to its character and the area's high-quality landscapes.

9.51 In this respect the Plan recognises the importance of protecting and enhancing the environment, be it the natural environment or the historic built environment. The value of national and international designations is recognised as are those areas of local value. The need to balance the requirements for growth against the need to protect and enhance the environmental qualities is a central challenge and one which the Strategy seeks to address.

9.52 In January 2021, Natural Resources Wales issued 'interim planning advice' to avoid further deterioration in environmental capacity. This 'advice' relates to all Riverine Special Area of Conservation (SACs) whose catchments extend into Carmarthenshire including, the Afon Teifi, Afon Tywi, River Wye and Afon Cleddau. It is currently on the third iteration of the guidance.

9.53 As a Local Planning Authority, the Council is required to have regard to the advice given by NRW when making planning decisions (for both individual planning applications and for this LDP). The Council is taking as proactive an approach as possible to this issue and has put in place a series of tools including a nutrient calculator and mitigation guidance.

9.54 The calculator enables developers/applicants etc to work out the level of phosphate generated by a development and therefore devise appropriate mitigation schemes. This is in turn supported by detailed mitigation guidance to support them identifying potential approaches. We were also the first to establish and hold a Nutrient Management Board (NMB) in Wales (for the Afon Tywi) and are members of the also recently formed Afon Cleddau and Afon Teifi NMBs.

9.55 The Plan will be supported by a range of approaches including Catchment Phosphorous Reduction Strategies will identify a range of mitigation measures, as well as wider measures that are outside of the remit of the Council and lie with other responsible bodies in relation to the wider riverine environment. These will be linked to a series of delivery milestones designed to ensure that the implementation of suitable mitigation happens in as manner that facilitates the release of development in the Plan.

9.56 The Plan also reflects the need to safeguard the distinctiveness and character of areas within the County. In this respect the role of placemaking and how developments relate to their surroundings is a strong feature of this Plan.

A New Strategy – Key Components

9.57 The key components of the strategy are as follows:

  • Provide for 9,704 new homes to deliver a housing requirement of 8,822 homes;
  • Provide opportunities to deliver a minimum of 4,140 jobs new jobs in the County contributing to the Regeneration and strategic economic and employment ambitions within the County and region as well the Councils regeneration objectives to deliver 5,295 jobs;
  • Provide sufficient employment land to support economic growth and job creation;
  • Promotes a settlement framework which supports cohesion between settlements and communities;
  • Distribute development in accordance with the settlement hierarchy, reflecting the sustainability and functional attributes of settlements, their services and facilities as well as their ability to accommodate growth;
  • To respect and enhance the rich and diverse environmental qualities of the County;
  • To reflect the needs of rural areas and the rural economy;
  • Recognise the cultural and linguistic character of the County and to reflect the Notice of Motion agreed by County Council on the 10th July 2019 in relation to the Welsh language;
  • Contribute to the delivery of physical and social regeneration opportunities and provides for a diverse and cohesive range of settlements and communities;
  • Reflect the diversity across the County, and within its settlements and communities;
  • Provide for employment both through allocated sites and through policy provisions across the County recognising the need to sustain and enhance rural economies;
  • Focus retail change in established centres whilst providing opportunities for provision throughout the hierarchy in a way which will assist in improving accessibility to services and facilities and help in achieving viable, self-supporting settlements and sustainable communities;
  • Provide and implement a strategic Plan level mitigation strategy to tackle the challenges associated with Phosphate pollution in protected Riverine SACs. Integrate with solution focused approaches including the provision of mitigation, credit trading approaches and the work of the Nutrient Management Boards;
  • Recognise the contribution of 'previously developed land' and utilises it as appropriate whilst recognising the County's largely rural context;
  • To provide opportunities to cater for the County's visitor economy;
  • Protect and enhances the natural, historic, and built conservation qualities of Carmarthenshire and its high value landscapes;
  • Contribute to the declarations of Climate and Nature and National and Local level; and,
  • Contribute to an integrated transport network both within the County and region. Seeks to make efficient use of the existing road and rail network by reflecting that the public transport network can afford the opportunity for consolidation and improvement of service thus maintaining and improving accessibility. Promote opportunities for active travel – through access alternative means of transport including walking and cycling.

[39] Completions data 2015 – 2018 (Adopted LDP Annual Monitoring Report 2017 -2018)

[40] Planning Policy Wales: Edition 11

[41] Planning Policy Wales: Edition 11

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