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Sargeant launches Planning Bill for Wales

Words: Laura Edgar

Welsh planning minister Carl Sargeant has introduced a new Planning Bill intended to provide a more streamlined system that supports the “delivery of the homes, jobs and infrastructure that Wales requires”.


The bill, launched on Monday, offers fresh approaches to consultation, decision-making, regional planning and proposes new powers for "more resilient" planning authorities as a step towards reducing the number of authorities in the principality.

In particular the Planning Bill proposes that:

- public consultations should take place as early as possible on major developments to make sure that the planning system is quick. A developer framework on how to best engage communities on planning will also be provided.

- planning applications that are nationally significant to Wales will be decided upon by Welsh ministers, including projects that are between 25 and 50 megawatts. Sargeant explained: “This will ensure that schemes with an impact on communities across Wales are considered in both a wider and local context.”

- planning issues extending beyond one local authority should be tackled at a sub-regional level. Therefore, they will be looked at through a strategic development plan that has been prepared by a planning panel comprising of local authority, community and environmental representatives, as well as those with business interests.

“The bill also proposes to amend existing powers in order to create more resilient local planning authorities with a wider range of specialist skill sets," said Sargeant. "I have made no secret of my view that a reduction in the number of planning authorities from the current 25 is essential for the future of planning in Wales and this Bill strengthens that position.”

With planning at the heart of communities, the minister added, the introduction of the Planning Bill was the beginning of an exciting period for planning in Wales. “I will soon be putting in place additional measures to ensure that the bill’s objectives are met in full. 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.”

Image courtesy of the Welsh National Assembly