A REVOLUTION in planning - with the needs of people who will use buildings and communities of the future at the heart of the development process - is launched in Wales today.

Enriching people's lives and prioritising wellbeing in future development are key aims of a revamped Planning Policy Wales (PPW), which will underpin future planning decisions in Wales, with a strong low carbon emissions, 'green' focus.

Extraction and use of fossil fuels, including by fracking, will be restricted in Wales, placed at the bottom of a new 'energy hierarchy' that promotes renewable energy developments.

Proposals for opencast or deep-mine development should not be permitted, and oil and gas extraction should be avoided, states the PPW.

Councils intending to approve planning applications for new coal and petroleum developments must notify the Welsh Government ahead of a decision.

Renewable energy developments, such as wind and solar power, top the energy hierarchy, with councils now required to define areas where such developments will be permitted. They must also set renewable energy targets.

Active Travel (walking and cycling) is central to the new PPW, through the health and wellbeing agenda. In future, services must be easily accessible by walking and cycling, and another new hierarchy for planners to consider - for transport - places cars and other private vehicles at the bottom, with walking and cycling, and public transport, at the top.

Another UK 'first' is an ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) policy. New non-residential developments must have charging points in at least 10 per cent of parking spaces.

Putting people at the heart of the planning process - with other aforementioned changes - means developers and planners from now on have a duty to think first and foremost about those who will live in the places they create, and how they will go about their everyday lives.

The focus is on 'placemaking', ensuring communities have all the services they need within easy reach, and that development is high quality.

The 'agent of change' principle is included too, meaning that a business or person responsible for introducing a change, is also responsible for managing it.

An example would be where a developer wants to build homes near an existing music venue.

Where previously the venue may have come under pressure to reduce noise emissions, change performance or closing times, or close altogether, in future the developer of new homes within earshot will be responsible for ensuring appropriate mitigation is put in place so the noise generating use - the music venue - is not curtailed in the future by complaints from new residents.

This indicates a determination to protect the night-time economy, and is another UK planning 'first', introducing the concept of soundscapes in protecting the acoustic environment.

Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths AM, said it is "essential" to create a "legacy of well-designed, sustainable places which will improve the lives of all".

“I want to make sure when planners and developers are formulating their plans and schemes, they think first and foremost about the people who will live there and how they will go about their everyday lives – something which doesn’t always happen," she said.

"This involves thinking about environmental, social, cultural as well as economic needs, including the impact on both mental and physical health, caused by new developments.

“The new Planning Policy Wales will ensure we have well-designed spaces which will benefit future generations.”