19 November 2004
Six towns have been named as growth areas in a wide-ranging blueprint for planning across Wales announced by Finance and Local Government Minister Sue Essex.
The six represent one for each of six designated regions – Cardiff, Newport, Merthyr and Ebbw Vale in the Southeast; Swansea; and Wrexham in the cross-border region including Chester.
The so-called spatial plan, entitled People, places, futures, stops short of giving detailed figures on the number of new houses, factories, roads and railway services needed.
Essex said: 'It sets out the direction of travel for Wales over the next 20 years. It also recognises that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.'
The plan, based on a European Union model already adopted by the Netherlands, is designed to go beyond traditional planning considerations. It includes a framework to guide future policy with the aim of building sustainable communities.
Local authorities will have to 'consider' the spatial plan when they develop their own plans. Its local adoption will be overseen by a National Spatial Planning Group, chaired by the minister.
Essex will, however, face pressure in the Assembly to incorporate regional jobs targets, as well as to boost spending on transport links between the north and south.
The core towns will be enlarged through targeted investment. Essex promised the development of effective regional integrated transport systems, making full use of the Assembly's enlarged transport powers in the Transport (Wales) Bill, expected in the Queen's Speech.