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News Release

Cardiff

The Planning Wales Act 2015

Kathryn Williams, Senior Planner in JLL’s Cardiff office looks at the implications for Wales


The Bill has now been made an Act with Royal Assent being awarded on 6 July 2015.

The Act will deliver several changes to both policy planning and development management for Planning in Wales. 

Headliners to focus on include:

Development Management

  • Developments of National Significance (DNS) – the thresholds are to be confirmed in the awaited Regulations.  Initial indicators are that onshore energy generating stations producing between 25MW and 50MW.  Welsh Ministers may also specifically designate a DNS.  These applications may be submitted straight to Welsh Ministers with a determination timeframe of 36 weeks, and no right to appeal following the decision.  The thresholds for the DNS are currently being consulted upon until 12 August 2015.
  • Kathryn WilliamsThe statutory requirement to undertake the pre-application process for major schemes, which includes a requirement to consult with the public, stakeholders and statutory consultees.
  • ‘Special measures’ – a mechanism to submit to Welsh Ministers where LPAs are categorised as poorly performing.
  • Planning committee sizes to be reduced; Design and Access Statements remain for major applications; LPAs can refuse to determine retrospective applications subject of enforcement notices; written representations is the default appeal process; fast track process on advert appeals introduced; procedure changes on notification on commencement of development.
  • Welsh language is now a material consideration when applications are being determined.  The impact on those areas where this is first language being very important.
  • New Planning Advisory and Improvement Service (PAIS) to be set up to improve best practice in the Welsh Planning System.

Planning Policy

  • A National Development Framework (NDF) is to be in place by spring 2018, with a re-draft of Planning Policy Wales to happen concurrently.  This is a golden opportunity to create a plan which promotes development when proven to be sustainable, with planning benefits.
  • Strategic Development Plans (SDP) are a new tier to be created to help ameliorate the prime candidate cities (likely to be Cardiff and Swansea) identifying areas for investment, housing and infrastructure.
  • Local Development Plans (LDP) will remain a key focus, plus new legislation to allow authorities to create Joint LDPs.  This would facilitate the transition once the merging local governance occurs.

The focus on local government and the right structure for Wales remains a key issue.  This will dictate the success of many of the new legislative requirements set out in this Planning Act.  I hope the necessary resources and budgets to roll out these new statutes are in place.