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New regulations on planning committees on the horizon in Wales

Words: Roger Milne
Neil Hemington write to chief planners / iStock: 512543170

The Welsh Government's chief planner Neil Hemington has writen to all chief planning officers about new rules on the size and composition of local planning authority committees.

The rules are due to come into force next month (5 May).

The regulations partly reflect the recently-published government response to the consultation (launched in October 2014) on planning committees, delegation and joint planning boards.

They prescribe requirements in relation to the size and composition of relevant local planning authority committees and sub-committees in Wales. Committees are to appoint “no fewer than 11” and “no more than 21 of its members” as specified in Regulation 4. Also, the number of appointees “must not exceed half of the total number of members of the relevant authority, rounded up to the nearest whole number”.

Hemington’s letter stressed that “failure to adhere to the requirements of the aforementioned regulations will affect the validity of decisions taken by the planning committee".

“It is therefore necessary for the relevant section of each local authority constitution to be amended in accordance with the requirements of the regulations and, following the May 2017 local government elections, planning committees are appointed in accordance with these requirements prior to making decisions.“

In addition, the Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 has been laid before the National Assembly for Wales and comes into force on 5 May. These regulations require that each meeting of the planning committee must have a quorum of 50 per cent to make decisions; and the use of substitute members is prohibited.

Section 9.6 of the Development Management Manual will be amended to reflect the new legislation and provide further guidance.

Image credit | iStock