Planning Law in Wales

Current project status

  • Initiation: Could include discussing scope and terms of reference with lead Government Department
  • Pre-consultation: Could include approaching interest groups and specialists, producing scoping and issues papers, finalising terms of project
  • Consultation: Likely to include consultation events and paper, making provisional proposals for comment
  • Policy development: Will include analysis of consultation responses. Could include further issues papers and consultation on draft Bill
  • Reported: Usually recommendations for law reform but can be advice to government, scoping report or other recommendations

Developing a new Planning Code for Wales which is comprehensive but simpler. We are currently analysing consultation responses.

Cyfraith Cynllunio yng Nghymru

Download the consultation paper

Download individual chapters of the consultation paper

Download a summary of the consultation paper.

The problem

Planning law in Wales is unnecessarily complicated and, in places, difficult to understand.

The legislation has not been consolidated since the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, and that has been supplemented by a succession of piecemeal changes ever since.

Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify what the planning law of Wales actually is.  New legislation made in the Assembly and in Parliament may apply to Wales only, to England only, or to both England and Wales. This creates an ever more complex system.

And there a number of places where the law could be made clearer, or where redundant provisions could be done away with.

The project

As part of our 12th programme of law reform the Law Commission was asked by the Welsh Government to examine the operation of the development management system.  This also followed our earlier report on The Form and Accessibility of the Law Applicable in Wales.

We concluded that there wasn’t a need for further major policy changes in this area, but that there was clearly a need for planning law in Wales to be simplified and modernised.  We produced a Scoping Paper in June 2016, setting out our preliminary proposals on a possible consolidation and reform exercise.

The Welsh Government is now preparing a new Planning Code, including a Bill that would incorporate almost all of the 1990 Act and many of the other Acts that have added to it.  And the Commission has been working on technical reforms, to improve how the system works in practice.


We produced a full Consultation Paper, setting out our conclusions as to the scope of the project and outlining over 180 proposals for technical reforms.  This was published in November 2017.

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Documents and downloads

Project details

Area of law

Public law


Nicholas Paines QC