Future Wales: The National Plan 2040

Future Wales: The National Plan 2040

Welsh Government National Development Framework (NDF) ConsultationThe Welsh Government published its new spatial strategy for Wales on 24 February 2021.

The document has been issued following public consultation and was previously called the National Development Framework.




What is Future Wales: The National Plan 2040

Future Wales – The National Plan 2040 is a 20-year national development plan that covers the whole of Wales. It has been produced by Welsh Government and covers the period up to 2040.

The plan seeks to provide a strategy for addressing key national priorities through the planning system. The plan covers big issues including the economy, housing and environment. It shows where nationally significant developments like energy, transport, water and waste projects should take place.  It shows where growth should happen, what infrastructure and services are needed and how Wales can help fight climate change. It tries to make the best use of resources, create accessible healthy communities and protect our environment. The plan is in line with the Well Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

How will it affect communities?

As well as covering the big planning issues that affect Wales, the plan will affect the shape and direction of future planning policy in Wales, including Local Development Plans (LDPs).

The National Plan identifies four regions for future policy development in Wales – North Wales, Mid Wales, South West Wales and South East Wales. It is expected that Strategic Development Plans (SDPs) will be prepared for these regions. SDPs will influence the content (and length) of future LDPs.

It is considered that each region has its own distinctive opportunities and challenges therefore the above approach will provide an appropriate way to address these matters.


What status does the National Plan have?

Future Wales: The National Plan 2040 replaces the previous Wales Spatial Plan. Unlike the Wales Spatial Plan, the National Plan has development plan status and therefore be of greater significance.

The National Plan is a large piece of the planning jigsaw in Wales. The hierarchy of development plans is:

  • Future Wales: The National Plan 2040
  • Strategic Development Plans (SDPs)
  • Local Development Plans (LDPs)

SDPs and LDPs must be consistent with the National Plan. The National Plan will also be relevant to large scale infrastructure projects through the Developments of National Significance (DNS) process.  So, whilst the National Plan is a Wales-wide plan, it will inform decisions on nationally significant infrastructure projects and will affect future planning policy at a local level.


How does it relate to other laws, policies and plans?

The National Plan aligns with and maximises its contribution to the well-being goals, objectives and ways of working, as required by the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

The National Plan sets out land use framework to support the delivery of the Welsh Government’s national strategy, Prosperity for All: the national strategy. In addition, a number of other Welsh Government strategies and policies have informed and helped shape the National Plan, including the Welsh National Marine Plan, the Transport Strategy, Prosperity for All: Economic Action Plan, Natural  Resources Policy and the Low Carbon Wales plan. The intention is that there will be a two way relationship with any reviews of these documents taking account of the National Plan.

The National Plan does not replace Planning Policy Wales (PPW), a new edition 11 was issued on the same day as the National Plan, it will complement PPW and  the supplementary Technical Advice Notes.  The National Plan will therefore affect the shape and direction of future planning policy in Wales, including Strategic Development Plans (SDPs) and Local Development Plans (LDPs).


How is the National Plan structured?

The National Plan is divided into five sections, each building on the previous section:

  1. Introduction – explains the purpose of the National Plan and how it fits with wider Welsh Government policy.
  2. Wales: An Overview – identifies and explains the main challenges and opportunities facing Wales over the coming 20 years. These challenges and opportunities are listed under various issue headings e.g. Health, Population, Economy etc.
  3. Setting and achieving our ambitions – The National Plan Outcomes are overarching ambitions based on the national planning principles and national sustainable placemaking outcomes set out in Planning Policy Wales. The plan identifies 11 outcomes that it seeks to achieve.
  4. Strategic and Spatial choices: Future Wales’ spatial strategy – sets out a framework for where large scale change and nationally important developments will be focused over the next 20 years. It will support the National Plan Outcomes.
  5. The Regions – sets out the importance of regional planning and the introduction of Strategic Development Plans (SDPs). It confirms the four regions as North Wales, Mid Wales, South West Wales and South East Wales.


What are the main challenges & opportunities identified in the NDF?

Some challenges and opportunities include:

  • Our Population
  • Our Health
  • Welsh Language

In addition, the other issues are also identified including:

  • Climate Change
  • COVID 19
  • Low Carbon Economy

A full list can be seen on pages 20-51.


What outcomes does the National Plan want to achieve?

The National Plan seeks to provide a Wales where people live and …

…work in connected, inclusive and healthy places.

… in vibrant rural places with access to homes, jobs and services.

… in distinctive regions that tackle health and socio‑economic inequality through sustainable growth.

… in places with a thriving Welsh Language.

… and work in towns and cities which are a focus and springboard for sustainable growth.

… in places where prosperity, innovation and culture are promoted.

… in places where travel is sustainable.

… in places with world‑class digital infrastructure.

… in places that sustainably manage their natural resources and reduce pollution.

… in places with biodiverse, resilient and connected ecosystems.

… in places which are decarbonised and climate‑resilient.


Where does the National Plan say growth should be?

The National Plan suggests three National Growth Areas where there will be growth in employment and housing opportunities and investment in infrastructure:

  • Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys
  • Swansea Bay and Llanelli
  • Wrexham and Deeside

The National Growth Areas are complemented by three Regional Growth Areas which will grow, develop and offer a variety of public and commercial services  at regional scale:

  • The South West
  • Mid Wales
  • The North

Development and growth in towns and villages in rural areas is not excluded but should be of appropriate scale and support local aspirations and need. (Policy 1).

Future Wales Spatial Strategy

The National Plan sets out 36 policies as part of the spatial strategy as follows:

Policy 1               Where Wales will grow.

Policy 2               Shaping Urban Growth and Regeneration – Strategic Placemaking.

Policy 3               Supporting Urban Growth and Regeneration – Public Sector Leadership.

Policy 4               Supporting Rural Communities.

Policy 5               Supporting the Rural Economy.

Policy 6               Town Centre First.

Policy 7               Delivering Affordable Housing.

Policy 8               Flooding.

Policy 9               Resilient Ecological Networks and Green Infrastructure.

Policy 10            International Connectivity.

Policy 11            National Connectivity.

Policy 12             Regional Connectivity.

Policy 13             Supporting Digital Communications.

Policy 14             Planning in Mobile Action Zones.

Policy 15             National Forest.

Policy 16             Heat Networks.

Policy 17             Renewable and Low Carbon Energy and Associated Infrastructure.

Policy 18             Renewable and Low Carbon Energy Developments of National Significance.

Policy 19             Strategic Policies for Regional Planning.

Further Policies are region specific and referred to below.


What are the four regions?

The National Plan divides Wales into four planning regions that have their own unique opportunities and challenges:

  • North Wales
  • Mid Wales
  • South West Wales
  • South East Wales

At least one Strategic Development Plan must come forward in each of these regions.


What is a Strategic Development Plan (SDP)?

A Strategic Development Plan (SDP) is regional plan that is designed to deal more effectively with cross boundary issues and achieve better planning solutions.  The plans should include spatial strategies, settlement hierarchies and plans for the provision of housing and employment amongst other important regional issues.

It is anticipated that groups of Local Planning Authorities working with other stakeholders will prepare Strategic Development Plans in each of the regions.

SDPs will be prepared in a broadly similar way to Local Development Plans, but they will not replace them. LDPs will continue to focus on local planning policies but may become shorter and more focussed once the SDP is adopted.  An SDP must be in ‘General Conformity’ with the National Plan, when published.


What does the National Plan say about North Wales?

  1.  Policy 20             National Growth Area – Wrexham and Deeside
  2.  Policy 21             Regional Growth Area – North Wales Coastal Settlements
  3.  Policy 22             Green Belts in the North
  4.  Policy 23             North Wales Metro
  5.  Policy 24             North West Wales and Energy
  • 16200 new homes to be delivered over the plan period including affordable housing (53%).  Growth mainly in Wrexham and Deeside.
  • Sustainable growth and regeneration in regionally important towns along the northern Coast. Holyhead, Caernarfon, Bangor, Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl and Prestatyn will be a focus for managed growth to complement the National Growth Area of Wrexham and Deeside.
  • Strategic Development Plan to identify a green belt around Wrexham and Deeside.
  • New Metro for the region.
  • New energy related projects supporting economic benefits and low carbon energy generation.
  • Wylfa Newydd and Trawsfynydd supported in principle.


What does the National Plan say about Mid Wales?

  1. Policy 25             Regional Growth Areas – Mid Wales
  2. Policy 26             Growing the Mid Wales Economy
  3. Policy 27             Movement in Mid Wales
  • 1800 new homes to be delivered over the plan period including affordable housing (61%).
  • Sustainable growth and development in a series of Regional Growth Areas
  • Regional Growth Areas should meet the regional housing, employment and social needs of Mid Wales.
  • The Regional Growth Areas are: The Teifi Valley, (including Cardigan, Newcastle Emlyn, Llandysul and Lampeter), Brecon and the Border, The Heart of Wales (including Llandrindod Wells and Builth Wells), Bro Hafren, (including Welshpool and Newtown) and Aberystwyth.
  • Development across the regions to meet local needs.
  • Support for the growth and development of existing and new economic opportunities.
  • Strategic and Local Development Plans must develop policies that support agricultural and land based traditional rural enterprises.
  • Provide a flexible framework to support the development of new, innovative and emerging technologies and sectors.
  • Joint working to ensure transport investments improve accessibility across Mid Wales and strengthen cross‑border transport links.
  • Plan growth and regeneration to maximise the potential opportunities arising from better regional connectivity.


What does the National Plan say about South West Wales?

  1. Policy 28            National Growth Area – Swansea Bay and Llanelli
  2. Policy 29             Regional Growth Areas – Carmarthen and the Haven Towns
  3. Policy 30             Green Belts in the South West
  4. Policy 31             South West Metro
  5. Policy 32             Haven Waterway and Energy
  • 25600 new homes to be delivered over the plan period including affordable housing (44%)
  • Swansea Bay and Llanelli is a National Growth Area
  • Swansea Bay and Llanelli will be the main focus for growth and investment in the South West region including strategic economic and housing growth; essential services and facilities; advanced manufacturing; transport and digital infrastructure.
  • Carmarthen and the Haven Towns Regional Growth Areas
  • Regional Growth Areas to support sustainable growth and regeneration in Carmarthen, Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Pembroke and Pembroke Dock.
  • The use of Strategic Development Plans to identify and establish green belts to manage urban form and growth in the South West, particularly around Swansea Bay and Llanelli.
  • Development of the South West Metro.
  • Strategic and Local Development Plans should support growth and regeneration around the South West Metro.
  • Potential new renewable and low carbon energy‑related development, innovation and investment at the Haven Waterway, consideration should be given to the contribution it will make to decarbonising energy supplies, the impacts on the landscape, seascapes, natural and historic environment and the economic benefits they would bring to the region.
  • On‑shore developments associated with off‑shore renewable energy projects will be supported in principle.


What does the National Plan say about South East Wales?

  1. Policy 33             National Growth Area – Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys
  2. Policy 34             Green Belts in the South East
  3. Policy 35             Valleys Regional Park
  4. Policy 36             South East Metro
  • 66400 new homes to be delivered over the plan period including affordable housing (48%)
  • Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys is a National Growth Area.
  • Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys will be the main focus for growth and investment in the South East region including strategic economic and housing growth; essential services and facilities; advanced manufacturing; transport and digital infrastructure.
  • Joint working including the neighbouring regions of England to promote and enhance Cardiff, Newport and the Valleys’ strategic role.
  • Support Cardiff’s status as an internationally competitive city and a core city on the UK stage, to retain and extend its role as the primary national centre for culture, sport, leisure, media, the night time economy and finance.
  • An increased strategic role for Newport as a focus for sustainable, long‑term growth and investment.
  • Support co‑ordinated regeneration and investment in the Valleys area to improve well‑being, increase prosperity and address social inequalities.
  • Development in the wider region which addresses the opportunities and challenges arising from the region’s geographic location and its functions as a Capital Region.
  • Identify a green belt to the north of Cardiff, Newport and the eastern part of the region to manage urban form and growth. Consider links to neighbouring green belts in England
  • Major development should not be permitted in the areas shown for consideration for green belts, except in very exceptional circumstances, until the need for green belts and their boundaries has been established by an adopted Strategic Development Plan.
  • The establishment of the Valleys Regional Park.
  • Development of the South East Metro
  • Strategic and Local Development Plans should support growth and regeneration around the South East Metro, including identifying opportunities for higher density, mixed‑use and car‑free development around new and improved metro stations.

When will the National Plan be reviewed?

It is anticipated that the National Plan will be reviewed every 5 years. The review will consider 4 national indicators.

  • National Indicators
  • Future Wales policy related indicators
  • The Integrated Sustainability Appraisal
  • Contextual evidence and influencing factors.

Further Information

Future Wales the National plan 2040 can be viewed at:


In addition, there is a Guide to Future Wales – Frequently Asked Questions which can be viewed at


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