Changes to the system for referring planning applications to Welsh Ministers are being proposed by the Assembly Government.
The existing system which is determined by Directions that have been in place since the 1990s has recently been reviewed by the Assembly Government to test its relevance to today’s planning system.
Under the existing system, local planning authorities are required to refer planning applications for certain types of development that they intend to approve to the Welsh Ministers. It is then for Welsh Ministers to decide whether they or local authorities should make the decision. This system includes planning applications that are not in line with the adopted local development plan for the area.
The Assembly Government is now consulting on a new type of Direction which proposes different circumstances in which applications should be referred to Welsh Ministers. This includes vulnerable development in flood risk areas.
The consultation also proposes the notification of other types of development that are not in accordance with local development plans including residential developments over 150 units and waste and renewable energy developments.
The Minister for Environment and Planning, Jane Davidson, said: “These proposals are aimed at helping us to achieve a planning system that accords with the local development plans that are already in place or being developed by local authorities around Wales.
“Our aim is to avoid unnecessary delays, so that we and local government can make the best use of resources available to us, and we welcome all views on how we can improve the current arrangements.
“The proposals are also aimed at ensuring that our planning processes take account of the growing risk of flooding.”
The consultation, which will run until the 13 June, does not propose any changes to current call-in criteria, which the Welsh Ministers take into account when deciding whether or not to call in an application.
Meanwhile, in a separate development, the Welsh Assembly Government is consulting on new proposals that specify how the Welsh language should be factored into the local planning process in an effort to support the needs and interests of the language.
The existing policy, which is set out in Technical Advice Notice (TAN) 20, already provides guidance on how local authorities should factor the needs and interests of the Welsh language into their planning decisions.
The new proposals build on that existing guidance and encourage local authorities to use Language Impact Assessments as part of the sustainability appraisal process that takes place when Local Development Plans are prepared.
24 March 2011