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Background and principles

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This is our land use planning policy for Wales and should be taken into account when preparing development plans.
The research study examines the barriers to the efficient delivery of timely planning decisions and identifies good practice.
Evaluates planning policy for economic development and recommends future planning policy and guidance requirements.

The Legislative Statement 2011-16 includes a commitment to consolidate existing planning legislation to make it more transparent and accessible.

Background

The Welsh Government has active work in progress to reform the planning system in Wales.  Since devolution, we have put in place up-to-date national planning policies.  These policies are appropriate to the needs of Wales, reflecting our commitment to deliver sustainable development, economic renewal and affordable homes.

To assist delivery at the local level a new local development plan system has been introduced.  Work is also underway to improve the planning application process.

Institutional arrangements

The institutional arrangements for delivery of the planning system have remained largely unaltered since 1947.  The Welsh Government is responsible for the framework within which the planning system operates, comprising primary and secondary legislation.  It is also responsible for producing national planning policy and guidance, whilst under the 2004 Planning Act the Welsh Government prepares the Wales Spatial Plan.

The Welsh Government also retains reserve powers to intervene in the production of local development plans, the determination of planning applications and undertakes an adjudication role, principally through the Planning Inspectorate Wales, whereby developers may appeal against a local planning authority’s refusal to grant planning consent.

Local planning authorities, comprising 22 unitary authorities and 3 national parks, are responsible for delivery of the planning system locally.  Their main responsibilities include the preparation of local development plans and operation of the development management system – determining planning applications and planning enforcement.  Other key contributors to the planning system include town and community councils and statutory consultees.

Whilst the institutional arrangements for delivery of the planning system have remained largely unaltered since 1947 the system is required to deliver an increasingly diverse range of policy objectives that may be in conflict, or, raise complex technical issues.

Planning system inquiry

The previous Sustainability Committee of the National Assembly undertook an Inquiry into the Planning System in Wales during 2010/11.  The Committee received evidence of the pressures faced by local planning officers in delivering on the ever increasing demands put on them. These demands include the requirement for greater and greater levels of technical expertise.

Visit: Sustainability Committee page on the National Assembly website (external link)

The Simpson Review Local, Regional, National: What services are best delivered where? has given initial consideration of future roles and responsibilities in the planning system.  Work is also underway to review the delivery of planning services in statutory landscape designations (National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

Legislative Statement 2011-16

The Legislative Statement 2011-16 includes a commitment to consolidate existing planning legislation to make it more transparent and accessible.  The Planning Bill will also provide an opportunity to reconsider roles and responsibilities.  This will help to ensure that we have a planning system that can deliver the outcomes that Wales requires.  A White Paper setting out our proposals will be published during 2013.  This will be followed by the introduction of a Planning Bill during the 2015/16 Assembly session.

Principles

Sustainable Development is the central organising principle for the Welsh Government.  A plan led approach to development management is essential to ensuring that new development is sustainable.  Decisions on individual developments should be in accordance with the plan where it is up to date.  Where there is no plan or plan is time expired decisions should be made in accordance with national planning policy.