Part 1

A) THE UDP AREA

  1. The UDP applies to the whole of the City and County of Swansea. The City is the second largest in Wales and the regional capital for South West Wales. The County, which is 378 sq. km in area, can be broadly divided into four distinct physical areas. To the north lie the open moorlands of the Lliw Uplands; to the south west the Gower Peninsula (Britain’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty); across the centre of the County extends a series of scattered urban settlements broadly situated along the main road corridors that radiate out from Swansea; and, at the centre of the coastal belt, the City of Swansea and its Waterfront encompassing Swansea Bay and the River Tawe corridor. These areas form the basis of the settlement strategy for the Plan (paragraph C (xi) refers).
  2. According to the Government’s latest Mid Year Population estimates (2005) the County has a population of 224,600 living in 94,000 households. The population has at present an ageing demographic profile. Over the ten year period 1993-2003, the number of children (aged 0-15) in Swansea fell by 10.0% (in the UK this figure fell by 1.6%), however the number of over 65s in Swansea rose by 1.9% (UK +4.1%). Currently only 25.4% of the Swansea population are in the 25-44 age group (below the UK national average of 28.8%) and 18.3% over 65+ years of age (above the UK national average of 16.0%). Over the last decade there has been significant out migration of the 18-24 age group. Approximately 17% of the resident population over 3 years of age have Welsh language skills, and the Ethnic Minority proportion of the total population is just over 2%.
  3. Swansea’s post-industrial economy is a mix of service (86% of employment), manufacturing (10%), and knowledge-based industries. The travel to work area includes over 270,000 people, whilst an estimated 1.5 million people live within an hour’s drive of the City Centre. There are excellent road and rail links to other major cities, a ferry port and a local airport. The area has experienced a 14% growth in employment since 1999 (above the UK average). Gross Value Added per capita (output per head) is £12,610 (2002), which is higher than the Welsh average, but only 81% of the UK average (£15,614). The legacy of industrial revolution and contamination has largely been dealt with, whilst recently completed and ongoing regeneration projects around the City Centre and Waterfront, are changing the quality of the urban environment and perceptions as the area seeks to establish itself as a dynamic European waterfront city.

B) REGIONAL INTEGRATION

  1. The UDP takes account of the aims and aspirations of neighbouring Councils, as well as those of the Wales Spatial Plan (WSP), which effectively establishes the spatial strategy for the region. The overall objective is to revitalise and improve the prosperity of the Swansea Bay – Waterfront and Western Valleys region (the region) and realise its commerce, innovation and tourism potential. This will enable it to become a key driver of the Welsh economy, accommodating sustainable population and employment growth and environmental improvement. The region straddles the boundaries of Swansea, Neath/Port Talbot and Carmarthenshire extending from Port Talbot in the east to Carmarthen in the west./li>
  2. The UDP responds in a positive and co-ordinated way to the significant advantages provided by the region’s location. Policies seek to maximise the potential of Swansea as the regional capital and second city, by building on the success of initiatives such as SA1 Swansea Waterfront, and the Lower Swansea Valley regeneration corridor, whilst capitalising on the distinctive natural assets of the area. The regeneration of Swansea will act as a driver for the growth of inland valley communities and surrounding urban centres where complementary development opportunities will be supported, such as Llandarcy Urban Village and Baglan Energy Park, through the development of an integrated waterfront regeneration masterplan.

C) SPATIAL STRATEGY

  1. The Plan’s spatial strategy is firmly based on sustainable planning principles. Its primary focus is the reinvigoration of the City Centre and waterfront, with most other development within the wider urban area of Swansea making the best use of available brownfield land complemented by policies to improve transport and accessibility, especially by means other than the car. The Plan seeks to restrict the outward spread of the urban periphery and to protect and enhance the urban greenspace and the surrounding rural environment, particularly in areas of high sensitivity and development pressure, such as Gower.
  2. In addition, the Plan seeks to provide for appropriate levels of growth in the other urban settlements in the plan area – Gorseinon, Loughor, Penllergaer, Pontarddulais and Clydach in order to stimulate regeneration of old industrial communities and to support a healthy base of local facilities and services in these areas.
  3. The core element of the spatial strategy is to develop a modern, attractive and vibrant waterfront area integrated with a revitalised City Centre. Delivering a significant enhancement to retail facilities that reinforces Swansea’s role as a regional centre will be central to the City Centre revitalisation. The ongoing SA1 development is another key element of the spatial strategy. SA1 Swansea Waterfront is based on an innovatively designed, prestigious mixed use development with opportunities provided for knowledge-based economic development which is crucial to the region’s long term growth, together with a quality mix of housing in a high grade environment.
  4. The bridging of the Tawe Barrage Basin has already tied SA1 into the core area ensuring that the rivermouth becomes a part of the central area rather than the edge. The development of the River Tawe corridor north of the barrage will also link the Lower Swansea Valley to the central area by means of a completed Riverside Park and the regeneration of the Morfa Road area. Successful integration of these elements with development opportunities presented by the remaining undeveloped waterfront sites will allow the creation of a high density mixed use modern core for the City. This will be the key to taking Swansea into the next era of its development and to successfully creating a new positive image for the region.
  5. In support of this, regeneration initiatives will need to focus on pockets of social deprivation, delivery of new and upgraded homes, environmental improvement, enhancement of public transport corridors and the development of healthier lifestyle strategies that reduce inequalities in facility provision. The consolidation and improvement of settlements and existing shopping centres is proposed and encouragement given to a greater mix of compatible land uses within them. New housing allocations are identified close to, or with good access to, major employment and community facilities and with good access to public transport. The development and regeneration of brownfield, under used and vacant land and property within the urban area is encouraged in preference to the release of greenfield sites.
  6. Further improvements and appropriate development at selected locations around Swansea Bay are proposed to complement the intensive urban waterfront development and safeguard the region’s more environmentally sensitive coastline, such as the Blackpill Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The Council commissioned consultants in 2006 to prepare a strategy for Swansea Bay, with the aim of providing a holistic vision and an overarching framework to guide new development and enhancement opportunities in the area. The resultant Swansea Bay Strategy is a culmination of extensive research and was adopted by Council following detailed public consultation. It focuses on the 8.5 km of waterfront from Swansea Marina in the east to Mumbles Pier in the west, which is recognised as a hugely attractive area of the city offering panoramic views and capable of providing an exciting range of attractions and facilities to serve both residents and visitors. The Swansea Bay Strategy is to be delivered during the lifetime of the UDP through a series of initiatives, both on a bay-wide level, and also by focusing activities at six key destinations, identified in Diagram 1 which are:
    • City Waterfront
    • St Helen's/Recreation Ground
    • Sketty Lane
    • Blackpill
    • Mumbles
    • Mumbles Pier
  7. The region already has a diverse portfolio of employment sites, which includes areas for large-scale inward investment and general industry. However, closer links between the developing Technia, Universities and higher education establishments are needed to facilitate the creation of the virtual University of South West Wales, and expand the knowledge-based economy.
  8. Balanced against these social and economic initiatives is the need to ensure that the County’s valuable natural heritage, cultural and historic environment is protected and managed through planned sustainable growth. This involves a requirement not only to protect the high density of internationally important natural heritage sites, greenspaces and the wide variety of habitats and landscapes, but also to move towards increasing the diversity of the environmental capital of the County.
  9. Green wedges are proposed to protect areas of countryside that are the subject of greatest development pressure, to manage the urban form and respect distinctiveness by preventing urban encroachment and coalescence, thereby retaining the separate identity and character of freestanding settlements. The green wedges are to be supplemented by an expanded network of green corridors within the urban area and interconnected with countryside recreation opportunities within Clyne Valley, Llan Valley, Lliw Reservoirs, and Kilvey Community Forest.
  10. In the high quality rural environments of Gower and Mawr Uplands, the policy emphasis is placed on conservation, enhancement and countryside management with rural and appropriate special interest tourism encouraged to contribute to environmental conservation. Conservation and management of the Burry Inlet and Loughor Estuary is also needed to restrain development and safeguard the area, which is of internationally recognised wildlife importance.
  11. The spatial strategy is summarised in Diagram 1 and amplified with site specific detail in the Proposals Map. It effectively determines the sustainable settlement strategy for the UDP, which is to:
    • Capitalise on the redevelopment opportunities afforded by brownfield land and the Waterfront area,
    • Support regeneration initiatives within the urban area and free standing settlements with good transport links, and
    • Limit development opportunities within the countryside areas of Gower, Gower Fringe and Lliw Uplands to that which supports local needs and appropriate sustainable tourism.
  12. The spatial strategy reflects the Welsh Assembly Government’s (WAG’s) vision for the regeneration of Swansea Waterfront, which emanates from the WSP. The extensive area of brownfield land on the eastern approach to the city, south of Fabian Way and east of SA1 Swansea Waterfront, offers considerable regeneration opportunities. SA1 lies adjacent to the commercial docks, which make an important contribution to the economic infrastructure of the County. Land within, and adjacent to, the existing Queens Dock may become surplus to operational requirements during the lifetime of the Plan. Redevelopment of these areas has the potential to create a major mixed use destination in order to:
    • Enhance linkages between a number of sites and locations along the Fabian Way corridor,
    • Build upon the success of SA1 Swansea Waterfront,
    • Provide opportunities for potential new tourism, leisure, and commercial developments in a range of settings, and
    • Contribute to the creation of a strong sustainable transport corridor.
  13. In line with the recommendations of the WSP, any future proposals for the redevelopment of such a significant brownfield waterfront and coastal area will be considered with the benefit of the waterfront regeneration masterplan for the wider Swansea Bay area. This will be prepared on a joint basis between adjoining Authorities and relevant partners to provide an overarching development framework for the area.

Diagram 1: Spatial Strategy Map

 

D) SUSTAINING COMMUNITIES AND THE WELSH LANGUAGE

  1. An important facet of the UDP is to ensure that development safeguards those social, cultural and economic elements that comprise a strong sense of place and identity within communities. The Welsh language is an important part of the social fabric within many Swansea communities, and is an integral component to notions of cultural identity and national heritage.
  2. The 2001 Census indicates that the total proportion of Welsh speakers within the County (17% of the population) is comparable with the national average (21%); however this masks some wide disparities between areas, in particular between northern and southern parts of the County. The highest proportions of Welsh speakers reside in the Electoral Divisions of Mawr and Pontarddulais in the north, at around 47.6% and 40.6% of the population respectively. In addition, more than 25% of the resident population in the communities of Clydach, Loughor and Kingsbridge are Welsh speakers. Accordingly these communities are defined as Language Sensitive Areas (LSAs). Welsh also plays an important role within the other communities to the north of the County (Llangyfelach, Penyrheol, Gorseinon and Penllergaer), where more than 1 in 5 speak the language. In the circumstances and given the overlap of community council boundaries it is considered appropriate to designate all the communities identified in Diagram 2 as LSAs.
  3. Allocation of land for housing and the provision of employment opportunities in communities with a significant proportion of Welsh speakers are recognised as the areas of plan preparation and policy formulation that have most impact upon the future vitality and viability of the Welsh language. Therefore in order to ensure the UDP contributes to the well being of the language, having regard to Technical Advice Note (TAN) 20 and Planning Policy Wales (PPW) guidance, the Council has sought to sustain the communities within the LSAs by allowing sufficient housing development to meet local needs, identifying opportunities for suitable employment and supporting local centres
  4. A major new housing or employment release in addition to existing commitments is proposed within each of the LSA electoral divisions in the UDP, with the exception of predominantly rural Mawr, where local needs affordable housing policy applies. The implications of such development on the local communities have been taken into consideration in the accompanying Assessment of Housing Sites documents. This analysis identifies that even in the unlikely event of all new residents of the proposed housing sites being non Welsh speakers, the maximum potential impact within each of the wards would be less than a 3% reduction in Welsh speakers. In reality the sites would not be developed to the densities allowed for in the Assessment, some of the occupiers would be existing local residents, whilst all the allocations are of sufficient size to ensure that the UDP’s Affordable Housing Policy applies to encourage new affordable housing to help stem out-migration. There is sufficient capacity in local schools to accommodate the demand arising from new development. Furthermore to encourage a healthy economic base, within or immediately adjoining these communities and housing allocations are centres of local employment in industry, education and health, which the UDP policies and allocations seek to support and which are unlikely to result in significant in-migration of workers.
  5. Clearly the impact of proposals on the linguistic character of a LSA will depend upon the nature and scale of development and where significant harm is likely adequate information and explanation of the potential affects of the proposals on the Welsh language and cultural character of the area will be required. SPG will be prepared to determine the need for Language Statements/Linguistic Impact Assessments to accompany planning applications. Safeguarding and enhancing the cultural heritage is an objective (1.g) and Strategic Policy (SP3) of the UDP and will need to be taken into account when considering major residential development and inward investment proposals. Additionally, a number of performance measures have been identified to help assess the impact of proposals on the Welsh language (Appendix 2 refers).

E) VISION, GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

  1. The UDP seeks to identify the enabling infrastructure, developments and safeguards needed to implement national planning policy guidance contained in PPW, the various TANs supplementing that document, as well as the Swansea Bay Area Actions of the Wales Spatial Plan and other relevant guidance listed in Appendix 4. The UDP also seeks to deliver the land use objectives of adopted Council strategies such as the Community Plan and Local Transport Plan, as well as the Economic Regeneration Strategy, Tourism Strategy, Swansea Environmental Strategy and the City Centre Strategic Framework. The shared objectives of these strategies and the UDP are shown in Diagram 3. The core of the diagram highlights objectives common to all strategies, whilst the outer segments highlights those more exclusive to the UDP and the strategies under which they are identified.

Diagram 3: UDP Links with Council Strategies

  1. The shared corporate objectives establish the UDP vision for the County, as set out below:

Vision

A sustainable approach to the development of a prosperous region focused on a cosmopolitan and multi-cultural City and County, which capitalises on its waterfront location. The strategy will be based on the conservation of the best we have, whilst making effective provision for the promotion of employment, good housing, shopping, leisure, tourism, community and education facilities in a safe, accessible, innovatively designed, healthy, ecologically rich and visually attractive environment.
  1. The vision demonstrates the Council’s commitment to the promotion of sustainable development. This will be pursued through goals based on the sustainable principles of environmental protection, economic growth, social progress, safeguarding of resources and improved accessibility, as set out in Table 1, each of which forms the basis for a chapter in Part 2 of the Plan. These goals can also be directly linked to national policy framework themes set out in the Wales Spatial Plan as highlighted below:

UDP GOALS

Spatial Plan Themes

1. Sustain a healthy, attractive and ecologically rich environment

Valuing our environment

2. Help promote the sustainable growth of the local and regional economy

Promoting a sustainable Economy

3. Ensure the full range of housing and facility needs of the community can be accommodated

Building Sustainable Communities

4. Make more efficient and sustainable use of the area's resources

Valuing our Environment

5. To maximise access opportunities for all by the various modes of transport to, from and within the area

Achieving Sustainable Accessibility

  1. The specific objectives to serve the UDP goals are summarised in Diagram 4. The objectives are not however necessarily exclusive to each goal and are further subdivided by topic area in Part 2 of the Plan. The policies set out in the following section provide an overview of the measures proposed in response to the UDP goals and objectives and establish the strategic framework for the more detailed Part 2 policies and proposals.

F) STRATEGIC POLICIES

POLICY SP1 - CREATING A QUALITY ENVIRONMENT

Sustainable development will be pursued as an integral principle of the planning and development process.

Development proposals designed to a high quality and standard, which enhance townscape, landscape, sense of place, and strengthen Swansea Waterfront identity, will be favoured.

POLICY SP2 - CREATING A QUALITY ENVIRONMENT

The countryside will be protected and conserved, with green wedges shaping the urban form and safeguarding the distinctive interplay of town and country. Village character will be protected.

POLICY SP3 - CREATING A QUALITY ENVIRONMENT

The natural, built, and cultural heritage of the County will be protected and enhanced to safeguard from materially harmful development.

POLICY SP4 - DEVELOPING THE ECONOMY

Proposals to develop or improve the variety and quality of tourism facilities will be supported where they contribute to the growth of the local economy, and where they do not have a significant impact on natural heritage and the historic environment or the amenity of local communities.

POLICY SP5 - DEVELOPING THE ECONOMY

Developments that will serve to re-orientate the economy towards more sustainable, high quality, skilled and knowledge based sectors will be encouraged.

Approximately 380 hectares of land is allocated for economic development to:

  1. Meet the projected demand for economic growth,
  2. Regenerate and improve links between the City Centre, Lower Swansea Valley and Swansea Waterfront,
  3. Bring brownfield land, particularly in accessible Waterfront locations, back into beneficial use,
  4. Remediate contaminated land and pollution,
  5. Support port related activities, and
  6. Complement the portfolio of sites elsewhere within the Swansea Bay and Western Valleys Region.

POLICY SP6 - DEVELOPING THE ECONOMY

The primary focus for new retail, cultural, and business development will be the City Centre.

The improvement and enhancement of District and Local Shopping Centres will be supported.

New retail development that is best located within the City Centre, District or Local Centres will not generally be supported at out-of-centre sites. Additional edge of centre shopping will be restricted to that which would not prejudice established shopping centres.

POLICY SP7 - PROVIDING HOMES AND COMMUNITY FACILITIES

Land will be made available for the development of 14668 new homes over the period from 2001 to 2016 to support a population of 233,000 by:

  1. Maximising the use of the existing committed landbank and previously developed land and buildings within settlements,
  2. opriate infill and rounding off within and at edge of settlements with good transport links,
  3. Securing appropriate provision to meet the County’s need for affordable housing,
  4. Making allowance for the creation of 500 new homes through the maintenance, improvement, redevelopment and reoccupation of void properties.

POLICY SP8 - PROVIDING HOMES AND COMMUNITY FACILITIES

The range of sports and leisure facilities and the tourism portfolio will be improved by establishing a network of urban destinations, enhancing sustainable countryside recreation opportunities and further developing a hierarchy of sports facilities.

POLICY SP9 - PROVIDING HOMES AND COMMUNITY FACILITIES

Improved and more accessible community, education and health facilities to meet the needs of new development schemes and to overcome existing deficiencies will be favoured.

POLICY SP10 - THE EFFICIENT USE OF RESOURCES

Mineral resources will be conserved as far as possible. Mineral development will be limited to that which is essential for economic growth, with associated environmental disturbance kept to a minimum. Restoration and aftercare will be required to be of a high quality. Within areas of significant environmental sensitivity, mineral development will be resisted.

POLICY SP11 - THE EFFICIENT USE OF RESOURCES

The upgrading of infrastructure provision and the generation of energy from renewable resources to meet the needs of existing and new development will be favoured, provided that environmental impact is kept to a minimum.

POLICY SP12 - THE EFFICIENT USE OF RESOURCES

Development that makes efficient use of resources and energy will be encouraged.

Proposals aimed at waste minimisation, appropriate recycling and the creation of energy from waste with the minimum environmental impact and disposal of residuals will be favoured. The landfill of waste will be kept to the lowest practical level and the provision of a range of waste management facilities will be supported.

POLICY SP13 - IMPROVING ACCESSIBILITY

Increased emphasis will be placed on proposals that deliver improvements to the public transport system, including enhanced interchange facilities, bus priority measures and expanding park and ride provision.

The role of cycling and walking as primary components of a sustainable transport system will be enhanced and restrictions on car parking integrated with improvements to public transport.

Major highway network improvement proposals will need to be justified within the context of an agreed strategic framework.

POLICY SP14 - IMPROVING ACCESSIBILITY

New development will be favoured in areas that are highly accessible by public transport, walking and cycling, and where they will minimise dependency on the private car. Proposals that are sympathetically designed to facilitate sustainable travel choices and promote accessibility by a range of transport modes will be encouraged.

POLICY SP15 - IMPROVING ACCESSIBILITY

Measures designed to safeguard, improve and extend rail passenger and freight services will be supported.

Proposals for the enhancement of the docks and airport will also be favourably considered, subject to environmental considerations.

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