About the Planning System

Local plans

Planning involves making decisions about the future of our cities, towns and countryside. This is vital to balance our desire to develop the areas where we live and work with ensuring the surrounding environment isn't negatively affected for everyone. It includes considering the sustainable needs of future communities.

The planning system in Wales has involved two main levels of plans setting out what can be built and where. These are:

  • The Wales Spatial Plan
  • Local Development Plans (LDPs)

The LDPs, together with the Wales Spatial Plan, determine how the planning system will help shape all communities in Wales.

Find out about the Wales Spatial Plan and the spatial regions.

The Wales Spatial Plan

Local planning authorities, in preparing a local development plan (LDP), must have regard to the Wales Spatial Plan (WSP) however it is not part of the statutory development plan framework. The purpose of the Wales Spatial Plan is to ensure that what is done in the public, private and third sectors in Wales is integrated and sustainable, and that actions within an area support each other and jointly move towards a shared vision for Wales and for the different parts of Wales.  It achieves this through collaborative working and the vertical and horizontal integration of policies nationally and regionally.  Find out more about the Wales Spatial Plan and how you can get involved.

Local Development Plans

Each Local Planning Authority in Wales must produce a Local Development Plan (LDP) for its area. LDPs include planning policies and site allocations which, when adopted, are used to determine planning applications.

Before adopting an LDP, Local Planning Authorities must submit the plan to the Welsh Government for independent examination by a Planning Inspector. Inspectors assess whether LDPs are ‘sound’ and can be adopted by the Local Planning Authority.

The Welsh Government has identified a series of tests of ‘soundness’ which are set out in paragraph 8.2.1 of the LDP Manual. When preparing LDPs, Local Planning Authorities must adhere to this and other Welsh Government policy/guidance, including Planning Policy Wales, Technical Advice Notes and the LDP Manual. These and other policy/guidance documents can be found on the Welsh Government website.