The existing system which is determined by Directions that have been in place since the 1990s has recently been reviewed by the Assembly Government to test its relevance to today’s planning system.
Under the existing system, local planning authorities are required to refer planning applications for certain types of development that they intend to approve to the Welsh Ministers. It is then for Welsh Ministers to decide whether they or local authorities should make the decision. This system includes planning applications that are not in line with the adopted local development plan for the area.
The Assembly Government is now consulting on a new type of Direction which proposes different circumstances in which applications should be referred to Welsh Ministers. This includes vulnerable development in flood risk areas.
The consultation also proposes the notification of other types of development that are not in accordance with local development plans including residential developments over 150 units and waste and renewable energy developments.
Minister for Environment and Planning, Jane Davidson said:
“These proposals are aimed at helping us to achieve a planning system that accords with the local development plans that are already in place or being developed by local authorities around Wales.
“Our aim is to avoid unnecessary delays, so that we and local government can make the best use of resources available to us, and we welcome all views on how we can improve the current arrangements.
“The proposals are also aimed at ensuring that our planning processes take account of the growing risk of flooding.”
The consultation does not propose any changes to current call in criteria, which the Welsh Ministers take into account when deciding whether or not to call in an application. This is set out in the leaflet ‘Calling in Planning Applications’.Anyone can ask for a planning application to be called in and the consultation includes a new form to assist these requests.
The consultation will run until the 13 June and is available on the Welsh Assembly Government website.