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Wales to create its own planning inspectorate

Words: Laura Edgar
Julie James / National Assemby for Wales

Welsh housing minister Julie James has announced that work has begun to create a new, separate planning inspectorate for Wales.

Currently, the Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales is responsible for making decisions and recommendations on planning-related land issues and appeals. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Welsh Government fund it.

Based in Cardiff, the inspectorate’s Wales Division manages casework on planning and related applications and appeals, including developments of national significance. It examines local development plans, which set out land use planning policies and form the basis of local planning decisions, using a team of dedicated Welsh inspectors and administrators.

The new planning inspectorate for Wales is expected to be fully operational by the end of the current assembly term, which is May 2021.

For now, and to guarantee that there is a smooth transition to the new service, existing applications for infrastructure schemes and planning appeals will continue to be looked at by the Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales.

James said: “Planning law and policy has diverged and continues to diverge at an accelerating rate from England, in order to meet the unique needs of communities and businesses in Wales.

“We are also moving forward to consolidate and unify planning law in Wales to form a separate Welsh planning code.

“For these reasons, I have instructed officials to begin work on a separate, dedicated service for Wales.”

Roisin Willmott OBE FRTPI, director of RTPI Cymru, told The Planner: “RTPI Cymru welcomes the decision to consider a dedicated planning inspectorate for Wales. Given the marked divergence between the two planning systems both in terms of policy and legislation it makes sense to have an autonomous service for Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland have independent services and these work well for their respective jurisdictions and much can be learned on their models to create a service to fit Wales’s needs.”

Image credit | National Assembly for Wales