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

We produced a Scoping Paper in June 2016, setting out our preliminary proposals. Consultation on the Paper closed on 31 October 2016. We received a variety of responses on the content and scope of the new legislation, and we are in the process of producing a full Consultation Paper outlining the details of the new Planning Code. The consultation paper will be published in spring 2017, leading to the publication of a full report thereafter. It is likely that the new Planning Code will receive Royal assent in 2020.

Cyfraith Cynllunio yng Nghymru

Planning law in Wales is unnecessarily complicated and, in places, difficult to understand. Planning legislation has not been consolidated since the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and has, ever since, been supplemented by a succession of piecemeal changes. The increasing divergence between the law in England and Wales has made it difficult to identify what the planning law of Wales is.  Amendments to existing legislation made in the Assembly and Parliament apply variously to Wales only, England only, or both England and Wales, creating an ever more complex legislative picture.

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 in law and practice. Whilst we considered that the system could benefit from a range of reforms, we did not conclude that there was a need for further wholesale change in this area.  During our review and early consultations, however, stakeholders shared their concerns about the complexity and inaccessibility of the law, and made clear that there was a need for the law to be simplified and modernised.

The project has been restructured to reflect the need for simplification and consolidation. We provisionally consider that regard should be had to the following:

  1. the restatement of existing law so that ,as far as reasonably practicable, it is contained within a single piece of legislation in a modern, consistent and well-ordered manner so as to be easily accessible to its readers;
  2. adjustments to produce a satisfactory consolidated text – correcting errors, removing ambiguities and obsolete material, modernising language and resolving a variety of minor inconsistencies;
  3. the simplification of the law by streamlining and rationalising unnecessary process and procedure, but not introducing any substantial change of policy; and
  4. the writing into statute of propositions of law developed in case law where they might contribute towards more accessible and coherent legislation.

The project coincides with, and is informed by, our project on the Form and Accessibility of the Law Applicable in Wales.

To sign up to our mailing list, or if you have any other queries, please send an email to

Documents and downloads

Project details

Area of law

Public law


Nicholas Paines QC