Summary of "Planning: Delivering
The Welsh Assembly Government is responsible
for setting the framework for the planning system in Wales. We
believe there is a consensus that the planning system should:
be open, fair and transparent;
inspire public and business confidence;
deliver improved quality and speed;
integrate with other plans, processes
and actions; and
meet our objectives in the Plan for
"Planning: delivering for Wales" sets
out proposals for changes to improve the operation of the plan
preparation and planning decision-making processes. The majority
of the planning system is delivered by local planning authorities,
but the Assembly Government establishes the framework and sets
the policy context. A Planning Agreement between the Assembly
and Welsh Local Government Association, setting out their respective
roles, is in preparation.
We need to ensure that there is confidence in
the planning system. People need to be able to find out about
the relevant plans and policies and to understand their implications.
There is a fundamental requirement for up to date development
plans and speedier plan-making. We want to achieve this whilst
ensuring that all sections of the community really feel involved
in the land use planning process. People also need to know that
decisions will be taken openly, fairly and consistently, and be
able to see this happening in practice. Overall, we want outcomes
that give us an improved quality of life, better standard of living
and an enhanced environment.
For all its strengths the present planning system
falls short of meeting these needs fully. We must make sure that
it provides appropriate procedures which can take account of complex
issues, enabling key decisions to be taken within reasonable timescales.
This will ensure that the planning system is seen as a positive
mechanism, not as an obstruction.
We consider that the existing system is basically
sound but it needs updating to meet the objectives and the new
context of spatial planning.
At national level this comprises Planning Policy
Wales, Minerals Planning Policy Wales, and the Spatial Plan. The
Wales Spatial Plan will need a strong sub-regional content. It
will therefore be important for groups of local authorities to
continue to work together on collaborative working across boundaries.
Development plans describe the intended use
of land in a specified area and provide an objective basis for
the day to day operation of the planning system. Each local planning
authority has a statutory duty to prepare a unitary development
plan (UDP). UDPs should deal with the land use aspects of the
community strategy and other plans; they need to be up-to-date,
relevant, and prepared with full community and business involvement.
The first generation of UDPs is currently being
prepared but it is clear that there are difficulties in operating
the system. The time taken to prepare them is too long. Most emerging
UDPs are too complex and detailed, while almost all unnecessarily
repeat national planning policy. We need to change both the procedures
for preparing development plans and their content. A clearer community
involvement in the process is essential, particularly since development
plans and community strategies have to be consistent.
Having decided that it is essential to have
a plan led system to guide development, we consider three options:
(a) to leave the present system in place;
(b) to introduce new "local development
(c) to introduce new style "local development
We propose Local Development Plans as the preferred
way forward. These plans would build on the work already done
by Welsh planning authorities on their current round of unitary
development plans while encouraging less wordy, more focused documents,
prepared in a shorter time. To minimise disruption to plan preparation
already underway, Assembly subordinate legislation would require
a unitary development plan to be adopted before individual local
planning authorities would be allowed to progress preparation
of their first local development plan.
Local Development Plans would comprise:
a strategic vision and key strategic
supplementary planning guidance;
Action Plans for areas of change
where site-specific policies are needed; and
a statement of community involvement.
Local planning authorities take most planning
decisions. Each year the 25 authorities in Wales receive around
30,000 applications. The Planning Inspectoratea joint agency
of the Assembly and the Department of Transport, Local Government
and the Regions (DTLR)decides around 600 planning appeals
a year in Wales. The Assembly's Planning Decision Committee takes
about 20 decisions annually on "called in" planning
applications and planning appeals "recovered" from the
The principles on which the planning decision-making
process is based are sound. However, we aim to make a radical
change in culture and delivery of the service. We want plan-led
decision-making which has the confidence of the public and business.
improved certainty, consistency,
clarity and speedthis will require clearer links between
plans and policies and decisions, more emphasis on quality of
outcomes, and checking what has been achieved;
a modern systemthis will involve
considering whether the regulations should be updated to make
them more relevant to meet new requirements;
improved access and consultationthis
will involve making sure the service is user-friendly, allowing
proper consideration of views; and
improved skills and awarenessthis
is needed to underpin continuous improvement in the quality of
The document includes 28 proposals for changes
to the framework for decision-making and development control to
meet the above objectives. Key proposals are to:
introduce a user-friendly checklist
and standard application form;
introduce delivery contracts for
confirm existing targets for processing
applications, but require improved monitoring;
encourage pre-application discussions;
ensure access for all; and
improve scrutiny of planning applications
in which local planning authorities have an interest.
There is separate consultation on Planning Obligations,
which is proposing the same changes as the English paper.
We consider the overall level of resources available
to the planning system, and make specific reference to the issue
of planning fees, and fees for monitoring of minerals applications.