Landmark Planning (Wales) Bill becomes Act

New strategic tier for city regions should improve delivery timescale

10 June 2015

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The landmark new Planning (Wales) Bill became an Act on 6 July. It provides for several tiers of development planning with a new National Development Framework; new Strategic Development Plans dealing with cross-boundary issues to cover strategic planning regions based on Cardiff, Swansea and the North Wales A55 Corridor; and the existing tier of Local Development Plans. A new tier of Developments of National Significance in which applications for major developments can be put directly to Welsh Ministers is currently under consultation. The present pace of LDP production has been slow partly because of a lack of strategic regional planning in Wales.

The proposed new strategic tier for city regions should lead to improvement in delivery timescale once in place and help pull the LDP’s together in the regions. The risk is however that there will be a slowing down of the process of delivering LDP’s until that new tier is in place. Wales cannot afford any slowing down.

 

Delays in processing applications have also historically occurred when the statutory consultees for drainage, water, fire services, NRW, etc, do not respond within the allotted time period, slowing the whole process up so improvement in that area of weakness is also welcome.

 

Although we believe the new bill is a positive milestone in shaping Welsh planning policy - and that the NDF could improve the delivery of important infrastructure - the proof will, however, be in the pudding. Speeding up development plan procedures to deliver implementable allocations, and positive management of the planning application process to cut down delays will, be key elements in keeping Wales in a competitive position with the rest of the UK in development terms. A marked speeding up of these aspects of the planning process could help Wales demonstrate a competitive edge in delivering development compared to elsewhere in the UK. We will watch its progress and implementation closely.

 

If this is of interest to you or you are a developer or land owner seeking specialist advice, please do not hesitate to contact me.