Councils could charge developers for upkeeping “green spaces, rivers and lakes” under new Welsh Government rules.

A Green Infrastructure Audit (GIA) needs to be completed by all councils because Welsh Government has made it a priority in national planning guidance, along with net carbon zero targets and active travel (walking and cycling).

Conwy county council discussed its GIA at this week’s cabinet meeting where it emerged upkeeping green infrastructure (GI), such as green spaces, rivers and lakes, could impact on developers.

It has gone early with its audit as it looks to compile its replacement local development plan (RLDP).

Housebuilders already have to contribute to communities through Section 106 payments, which supposedly offset the impact new developments have on communities.

The cash can be used for play areas, road improvements, improving or extending schools, or other community benefits.

The GIA document presented to councillors revealed green infrastructure must be a planning consideration and shouldn’t be compromised “unless replacement provision or suitable alternative provision can be made that enhances the GI network”.

It continues: “Where the scale of development would be too small to accommodate on-site GI provision, the Council will, where reasonable, seek developer contributions either towards the improvement of existing green spaces or towards the provision of new GI in an area of need.

“Where compensation is required for the loss of existing GI, then the provision of new or enhanced GI as required by the scale of the development should be in addition to the requirement for compensation.”

What this means is there should be green space in new developments but compensation will also need to be paid to replace any lost natural assets.

Greg Robbins, cabinet member for environment and transportation, had concerns about the increased regulation for developers.

He said: “We are putting more restrictions and conditions on developers. This has come from Welsh Government not from us.

“We are already getting complaints from developers that there are too many restrictions. I can’t help wondering whether this will have an effect on housing stocks as a result.”

Cabinet member for housing a regulatory service, Charlie McCoubrey, said: “It’s a valid concern but if we look at the detail of what they are proposing I don’t think it’s unreasonable.

“Sites will still have affordability but it may affect Section 106 spend in other areas. It’s just where you spend that money.

“But it’s a valid concern and we don’t want to do anything that stops the sites coming forward because we need the housing. It’s a balance.”

Cllr Chris Cater praised the level of detail in the document, which represented and in-depth environmental audit of the county’s green assets.

The report highlighted how 98% of Conwy county is “green” with many GI assets maintained by community and volunteer projects.

Agricultural land makes up 58% of the county, which the report claimed gave farmers and landowners the opportunity to enhance the area’s GI.

*The Local Democracy Reporting Service will bring more about this subject, which represents a major change in planning policy, in the coming days.