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Planning Bill forges ahead in Senedd

Words: Roger Milne

The government’s flagship planning legislation made significant progress this week. The Planning (Wales) Bill completed the third stage of its scrutiny by the Welsh Assembly. Still to come is a formal vote on the amended draft bill.

Assembly Members (AMs) remain concerned about proposals for a new layer of strategic plans and the establishment of so-called strategic development panels (SDPs) as well as a national-level plan.

Both AMs and local councillors worry that these moves will weaken locally accountable planning decision-making.

There is also still unease that the legislation does not do enough for the Welsh Language, which was the subject of a 24-hour ‘hunger’ protest by Welsh language campaigners earlier this week.

The Welsh Government has insisted that SDPs would only be introduced sparingly and then only in areas where a cross-authority approach is needed. The Cardiff and Swansea city regions are cited as examples.

The national plan will largely focus on energy infrastructure.

Amendments to establish a third-party right of appeal and an independent Welsh Planning Inspectorate were rejected during deliberations over the bill on Tuesday.

Image courtesy of Wotjek Gurak