PLANNING BILL CONSULTATON PAPER

DRAFT PLANNING BILL – POSITIVE PLANNING CONSULTATION

(issue date 4th December 2013 – final date for responses 26th February 2014)

 

Introduction

The Welsh Government has issued a Draft Bill and consultation paper which changes many aspects of Planning Law in Wales.  This paper covers the main aspects of change and suggests a response for the Association to consider.

 

Outline of the proposed Bill

The purpose of the Bill is to promote and deliver a better planning service by the authorities.  The changes revolve around the following headings:

•      National Development Framework;

•      Development of National Significance;

•      Strategic Development Plans ;

•      Local Development Plans;

•      Place Plans;

•      Direct planning applications to Welsh Ministers;

•      Appeals;

•      Enforcement procedure;

•      Notification of Development;

•      Pre-application discussion;

•      Planning Committees;

•      Development Management Procedures Wales Order; and

•      Planning application and planning advice fees.

 

Planning Advisory and Improvement Service & Competency (Q1 & Q3)

The principle of this part is to change the culture from ‘controlling’ to ‘enabling’.

The new Planning Advisory & Improvement Service will seek to ensure Planning Authorities have the right skills through sharing experiences and training.  This includes Professionals (LPA and Private) as well as Councillors.

 

Built Heritage (Q2)

A review of the Built Heritage arrangements with regard to Planning should be reviewed so that there is a reduction in duplication of Planning levels.

 

National Development Framework (Q4)

The idea is to replace the Spacial Plan with a national land use plan called the National Development Framework, this will deliver the details through Local Development Plans.

 

Planning Policy (Q5)

The Planning Policy Wales and Mineral Plans are to be merged to create a single plan.  The TAN’s (Technical guidance notes) would be retained.

There is question over the value of TAN’s if (such as with the Wind Farm developments) they are prepared and approved without the right information or knowledge of their effects.  It is claimed by the Welsh Government that they keep TAN’s up to date.

 

Core Development Management Policies (Q6)

The core development policies are stated in Local Development Plans. The idea is to reduce the LDP’s to address more local issues.

 

Hierarchy of development (Q7, Q8, Q9, Q10 and Q16)

It is proposed that there be three levels are in general:

Decided by the Welsh Government

Railways, Harbours, Power Stations, Energy, Pipelines etc.

For such developments pre application advice and notification will be a     statutory requirement.

Decided by the LPA with particular rules relevant to larger development

Over 10 houses, Minerals, Waste, 10,000sf or more of commercial space or           those with a land area of 1 hectare (2.5 acres).

Decided by the LPA with less rules for smaller developments

All other developments

See chart attached.

The consultation seeks to gain views on the above levels of development.

Also the consultation seeks to gain views on the division of responsibilities of the Welsh Government and LPA’s.

 

Developments of National Signifigence (Q12, Q13, Q14 and Q15)

The idea is that the Planning Inspectorate would make the decision on such applications with limits set on alterations to schemes once submitted.  The method of dealing with such applications would be similar to that where applications are subject to appeal or ‘call in’.

There will be the right by the Welsh Government to call in applications where they are connected and where they are DNS.

 

Charging for pre-application advice (Q11)

The Bill seeks to enable authorities to charge a fee for pre-application advice with regard to Developments of National Signifigence.

 

Planning Appeals (Q17, Q18, Q19, Q20, Q21 and Q22)

There will be some changes to the planning appeal process as follows:

Remove 6 month rule for non determination of applications

Right to be heard by an Inspector at a hearing removed

Inspectorate will decide how an appeal will be dealt with

Restriction on changes to an application when at appeal

How costs are awarded by the Welsh Government changes

Right to charge fees for planning appeals

Commercial Appeals Process introduced

There are also more time restraints with statements of case issued on application for appeal rather than within a set period.

 

National Parks (Q24)

There are no provisions in the Bill at this stage for how planning is managed in National Parks.  At present it is recognised that there is tension between the National Parks and the Local Authorities. Views on sought on the way forward.

 

Strategic Development Plans  (Q25, Q26, Q27 and Q28)

There are proposals to have 3 specific SDP’s as follows:

Cardiff

Swansea

A55 corridor

The SDP would only include key objectives.  LDP’s in these areas would be less detailed than LDP’s in other areas.  There is an extension of stakeholders involved in the preparation of such plans.

 

Delivery of planning services (Q29, Q30 and Q31)

It is recognised that there is a need to improve delivery of the planning services.

There will be a set of guidelines for good planning practices and also a reporting procedure to measure results.

If a LPA falls short of the required standards the Welsh Government would have the right to intervene.

 

Local Plans (Q32, Q33, Q34, Q35, Q36 and Q37)

The Local Development plan process remains in place.  There would be provision for more than one Local Authority to complete a Joint Development Plan.  This could possibly help along the North Coast.

There is also provision for ‘Place Plans’ which would be developed locally between the LPA and the Town/Community Council.

 

There will also be restrictions on an LPA withdrawing an LDP, it is proposed that they must give 6 weeks notice of such intention to the Welsh Government.

There will also be a set life of an LDP of 15 years.

Where a site has a land use identified in the LDP an application for detailed consent will only be required.

There will also now be provisions whereby an applicant can appeal against the non registration of a planning application.

 

Publicity for applications (Q38)

The Bill seeks to remove the need to put an advert in the local press. This would leave all notifications by use of Web Sites.

 

Planning decisions and Post Consent (Q39 and Q40)

Often applications are dealt with under delegated powers. There is great variances between LPA’s.  The idea is to have a set protocol so that there is clear guidance on what applications should go to Planning Committee.

There are also proposals regarding strengthening consultees. This where Town and Community Councils MUST respond to planning consutations on time, any failing to do this will form part of a report to the Welsh Government.

Minor or non material changes to an approved development will be dealt with without the need for a lengthy planning process (as at present).

 

Town and Village Greens (Q41)

There are some new provisions with regard to Town and Village Greens. When an area of land is included in a LDP for development an application for Village Green status will not be possible.  The Bill is seeking to gain a balance between open spaces and development.

 

Enforcement (Q42 and Q43)

There are various changes to the enforcement procedure as follows:

A requirement to seek a retrospective application where development

has taken place without consent.

The introduction of temporary stop notices.

The replacement of ‘completion notices’ with ‘termination notices’ for

developments which have started but not been completed.

Alterations to some appeal rights where an appeal has already been upheld.

 

Full information and copies of Consultation, Response Form and Draft Bill visit http://wales.gov.uk/docs/desh/consultation/131204positive-planning-proposals-to-reform-planning-en.pdf

 

Robert Robinson FRICS AILCM

December 2013