LDPs or Local Development Plans outline the amount and location of new development within a local authority area and span a 15 year period. Many local authorities in Wales are now in the process of moving from the old version of these plans called UDPs (Unitary Development Plans) to the new LDP documents.

Local authorities are required to ‘consult’ with local people regarding what is set out in these documents, although in truth the process is very much about presenting a prepared strategy to the public at large and taking comments on it, rather than genuine local engagement from the outset. You can check your local authority website to find out at what stage your local council is at regarding this process.

In terms of housing development, local authorities receive a set of figures from the Welsh Government which outline what they are expected to deliver over their LDP period. These are called population projections, these figures are then used to calculate the level of future housing provision in the county. The formula is heavily based on levels of past in migration and is also calculated using a ratio between births and deaths. The formula then uses this information to forecast forward in order to predict future growth.

The use of this formula has already led to massive over-development in many areas of Wales over the last decade or so. A period of unusually high levels of development (as many areas saw during the housing boom) is then carried forward to predict future growth levels.

Areas such as Wrecsam for instance have already seen the impact of this type of planning. Thousands of houses have been built which have been unaffordable to the local population. Local authority reports acknowledge that the over provision of housing has attracted high levels of in migration into the area, predominantly from the North West of England. Like a self fulfilling prophecy, more houses are then planned for and built to accommodate ‘predicted’ levels of future demand based on previous completion rates.

The population projection formula does not take into account fundamental issues such as affordability, therefore the majority of houses brought forward through the planning process are not based on genuine local need and neither are the majority accessible to the local population. The in fact isn’t based in any need at all; it’s based on a housing market.

This type of planning is not sustainable. The effects of this process have surprisingly received very little research, although if you live in an area that has experienced it, your home town or village has proabably changed beyond recognition over the last 10-15 years while these population projections have been in use. Many areas have experienced a huge increased pressure on services such as doctors, dentists and schools due to large population increases. There is also increased pressure on local hospitals and the local road network.

Importantly there are other factors such as the effect such large and rapid amounts of development have on the local environment, identity and language of an area. Welsh identity is one issue that has been monitored by local authority area since 2001. Labour Force Survey figures show a significant decline in the amount of people who identify with being Welsh in many counties across Wales. To give a few examples, in 2001 67% of people in Wrecsam identified with being Welsh, by 2009 that figure had dropped to 60%. Gwynedd has dropped from 71% in 2001, to 65% in 2009. To see all local authority areas please click HERE.

Of course, the level of development for each county will be affected by location and very often proximity to the border; although at this stage most areas of Wales are now feeling the effects of it. The latest set of population projections predict a further 212,000 houses for the country over the next 12 years, please click HERE to see the projections.

By 2033, the projections state a further increase to 323,000. To put this into prespective, in housing terms over the next 20 years this means an extra 2 cities the size of Cardiff plus a town the size of Wrecsam! Please click HERE to look at the breakdown of these figures at a local authority level and what these figures will mean to your community. Although these houses are being catered for now in our Local Development Plans, they are not needed at all in a Welsh context.