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 are currently analysing consultation responses. This page is also available in Welsh by clicking the link below.

Cyfraith Cynllunio yng Nghymru

A new Planning Code for Wales: comprehensive, but simpler

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, the increasing divergence between the law in England and Wales has made it 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.

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.

We didn’t think there was a need for further major policy changes in this area, but there is clearly a need for planning law in Wales to be simplified and modernised.

This also followed our earlier report on The Form and Accessibility of the Law Applicable in Wales.

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

The current stage of the project

We produced a scoping paper in June 2016, setting out our preliminary proposals on the nature and extent of the consolidation and reform exercise.  We received a variety of responses from all key stakeholders.

We have now produced a full Consultation Paper, setting out our conclusions as to the scope of the project and outlining our proposals for technical reforms.

The consultation paper was published on 30 November 2017, and the consultation process lasted for three months – until 1 March 2018.

We are now analysing the responses, and will produce a final report to the Welsh Government, which will inform the production of the new Planning Code. The Code is expected to obtain Royal Assent in 2020.

Download the consultation paper in full.

Download individual chapters of the consultation paper.

Download a summary of the consultation paper.

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Documents and downloads

Project details

Area of law

Public law


Nicholas Paines QC