Planning rules 'strike economy and environment balance'

Builder Job creation will be the focus of planning changes

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Changes to planning rules intended to help the economy grow have been unveiled by the Welsh government.

An overhaul of the policy, announced on Wednesday, had been in the pipeline.

Environment Minister John Griffiths announced the policy on a visit to an energy efficiency scheme in Mountain Ash, Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The Welsh government says he will try to "strike a balance" between the economy, environment and social factors.

Conservation groups have previously called on him to maintain protection for the environment.

The changes will mean councils are told to fully consider the economic benefits of planning applications, which on occasions could outweigh environmental and social factors.

It follows critical reports about planners rejecting developments and failing to grasp economic benefits.

Assessing demand

Local authorities will have to consult economic development officers on proposals which have the potential to generate or retain jobs.

They will have to use a "robust evidence base" of the economy when preparing local development plans.

It is meant to ensure decisions are based on a realistic assessment of demand.

It comes as Cardiff council is consulting on a local development plan that could lead to the creation of 45,000 homes and the biggest expansion of the city for more than half a century.

Mr Griffiths said the planning system had to give "full consideration to the social, economic and environmental impact of any development".

"This new policy is about balance," he said.

"It recognises that jobs and growth are essential to Wales' economy, but also recognises that we must never lose sight of the other factors that are vital to people's long-term quality of life."

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