Last edited 02 Mar 2016

Planning (Wales) Act

On 6 October 2014, Welsh Natural Resources minister Carl Sargeant introduced the Planning (Wales) Bill to the National Assembly, the first of its kind in Wales.

It was suggested that the Bill, taken together with proposed changes to secondary legislation, policy and guidance, would introduce a streamlined planning system “delivering timely, fair and consistent decisions that will enhance the built, natural and historic environment in Wales”.

On 19 May 2015, the Bill was voted through by the Senedd with 39 votes to 10.

On 6 July 2015, the Bill was given Royal Assent, and became the Planning (Wales) Act 2015.

The key purposes of the Act include:

  • Strengthening the plan-led approach to planning, introducing a new legal framework for the Welsh Ministers to prepare a national land use plan (the National Development Framework for Wales) setting out national land use priorities and infrastructure requirements.
  • Making provision for the production of Strategic Development Plans, to tackle cross-boundary issues, such as housing supply and areas for economic growth and regeneration.
  • Making provision for pre-application consultation.
  • Requiring the provision of pre-application services.
  • Permitting planning applications for nationally-significant projects to be made to the Welsh Ministers.
  • Permitting applicants for planning permission to apply to the Welsh Ministers where a local planning authority is deemed to be poorly performing.
  • Reforming the development management system to streamline procedures, ensuring that applications are dealt with promptly.
  • Improving enforcement and appeal procedures.
  • Introducing changes in relation to the recovery of costs for parties involved in planning cases.
  • Making changes in relation to applications to register town and village greens.

Sargeant said, “Planning is at the heart of our communities, from building an extension on a house to building a new local school... I look forward to seeing these reforms, coupled with a ‘can do’ culture across the planning sector, providing a system which can make a positive and lasting impact on our communities.”

NB The Welsh Government has made clear that Strategic Development Plans (SDP's) will be introduced sparingly, only in areas where a cross-authority approach is necessary. A spokesperson said, "Strategic development panels will be established to produce the SDPs with locally elected members making up two-thirds of the panel. The inclusion of social, economic and environmental partners on the panel will ensure that all relevant interests have the opportunity to contribute to the production of the SDP early on to deliver a more effective outcome.” Ref Planning Portal, Welsh Government counters Planning Bill criticism, 7 May 2015.

On 1 March 2016, new legislation under the Planning (Wales) Act came into force to ensure the most significant infrastructure projects are determined at the national level and are made directly to the Welsh Ministers, rather than the local planning authority. Ref 1 March 2016.

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