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Covid-19 triggers changes for pre-application consultation on major Welsh developments

Words: Roger Milne

New regulations came into force in Wales this week in respect of pre-application consultation for major developments as well as Developments of National Significance.

The amendment order effectively restarts the pre-application consultation process, removing the barriers preventing successful completion, while introducing safeguards to guarantee that the revised process is as inclusive as possible.

The requirement to make information available for inspection at a location in the vicinity of the proposed development has been temporarily withdrawn for the duration of the emergency, which currently is expected to last until 18 September.

Instead developers must make all the information available on a website and send hard copies of documents to any person who requests it.

If hard copies are requested, a planning application must not be submitted before the period of 14 days beginning on the day the last document was sent.

Any community consultation under way but not completed before lockdown began will have to start again. All requisite notices must be re-served and contain information about where the information can be viewed.

The new arrangements require developers to confirm that the prescribed information was made available on a website, whether hard copies were requested and that such copies were supplied.

In the case of submissions for Developments of National Significance, provided the application has been submitted electronically there is no longer a requirement for a hard copy to be deposited with Welsh ministers and the local authority.

Community councils will now have an extra week (21 days rather than 14) in which to make representations.

The requirements for site notices will remain. The display of a notice is an activity that cannot be carried out at home so is a reasonable excuse for the purpose of the coronavirus (Covid-19) regulations on permitted travel, confirmed chief planner Neil Hemington.

The guidance can be found here on the Welsh Government website.

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