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04/12/2017

Consultation launched on new planning code in Wales

Words: Laura Edgar
Consultation / Istock

The Law Commission has launched a consultation on proposals that aim to get Wales building and to further protect the country’s heritage and the environment.

Complex and overlapping planning laws laid out in 30 Acts of Parliament slow down the development process, confuse applicants and, generate unnecessary bureaucracy and cost, according to England and Wales’s independent law reform agency.

After undertaking research for two years, the Law Commission says it can be “tricky” for specialist legal professionals to get planning applications right, let alone the public.

Planning law that is applicable to Wales is difficult to find. It is also unclear and most of it is not available in Welsh.

The Law Commission has identified a number of ways in which the law can be improved and has launched a consultation on its proposals, which include:

  • Bringing together the 30 different acts as one and eliminating the parts that only apply in England to make the law clearer.
  • Emphasising the importance of the development plan.
  • Making it easier to find out when permission is required.
  • Introducing a single system of planning applications, containing enough detail to enable everyone to know what is proposed, but with authorities able to reserve details for later approval, to make the process of getting permission simpler. It should also be more straightforward to amend an existing permission.
  • Bringing together the various ways to provide infrastructure made necessary by development, by including the Community Infrastructure Levy in the planning system.
  • Repealing obsolete legislation, unused for many years – including those for urban development corporations, new towns and simplified planning zones.
  • Avoiding overlapping systems of control, by bringing together applications for listed building consent, conservation area consent and planning permission, whilst maintaining existing levels of protection for heritage.

Law Commissioner Nicholas Paines QC said: “It’s clear we need to build more homes in Wales, and the law is not helping.

“It has grown up over many decades and even experienced professionals struggle to find a way through the jungle of acts, rules and regulations. This leads to delay, mistakes and frustration.

“Wales needs a new planning code – to bring the law into one place, sweep away bureaucratic procedures, and save money for councils. And at the same time provide lasting protection for Wales’s historic buildings and unique environment.”

Speaking to The Planner, director of RTPI Cymru Roisin Willmott FRTPI welcomed the proposals and, in particular, the emphasis on the consolidation of planning law in Wales.

“The maze of planning law is complex and is in vital need of consolidation. RTPI Cymru will be analysing the detail of the proposals and testing them to ensure they help deliver a planning system which serves the public interest and helps deliver a positive planning vision and sets this in the context of the Well-being of Future Generations Act.

“In the original proposals we did not agree with the merging of planning permission with listed building consent into a single application regime. Our concerns centred around the risk of losing the specialised focus on the very detailed implications required for listed buildings. However, we will look at the new proposals and test them afresh.

“RTPI Cymru members are welcome to send in views for our Policy and Research Forum to take account of in developing our response to the commission. Please send comments to rhian.brimble@rtpi.org.uk.”

Response to the consultation – Planning Law in Wales - can be made until Thursday 1 March, 2018. Details can be found on the Law Commission website.

RTPI Cymru will be holding an event with the Law Commission on the proposals on Monday 11 December. More details can be found on the RTPI website.

Image credit | iStock

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