A new planning code for Wales is needed to get the country building and further protect heritage and the environment, says the Law Commission.
England and Wales’s independent law reform agency says that complex and overlapping planning laws – contained in over 30 Acts of Parliament – slow down the development process, confuse applicants for planning permission and generate unnecessary bureaucracy and cost.
Over the course of two years’ intensive research, the Commission has identified a variety of ways in which the law could be improved. Currently it can be tricky for specialist legal professionals to get planning applications right, let alone the general public.
So in a new consultation launched today, it proposes shaping up the planning system to make the law clearer, simpler and more effective for everybody.
Law Commissioner Nicholas Paines QC said:
“It’s clear we need to build more homes in Wales, and the law is not helping.
“It has grown up over many decades and even experienced professionals struggle to find a way through the jungle of Acts, rules and regulations. This leads to delay, mistakes and frustration.
“Wales needs a new Planning Code – to bring the law into one place, sweep away bureaucratic procedures, and save money for councils. And at the same time provide lasting protection for Wales’s historic buildings and unique environment.”
Planning for success
The Law Commission has found that it is difficult to find the planning law that is applicable in Wales. Much of it is unclear, and most of it is not available in Welsh. And the application process is unnecessarily bureaucratic.
So in a new consultation launched today, Planning Law in Wales (available in both English and Welsh), the Law Commission proposes a wide range of improvements, including:
- Making the law clearer – by bringing together the 30 different Acts into one, and eliminating the parts that only apply in England
- Emphasising the importance of the development plan
- Making it easier to discover when permission or consent is needed
- Simplifying the process of getting permission – introducing a single system of planning applications, containing enough detail to enable everyone to know what is proposed , but with authorities able to reserve details for later approval
- Making it more straightforward to amend an existing permission
- Bringing together the various ways to provide infrastructure made necessary by development, by including the Community Infrastructure Levy in the planning system
- Repealing obsolete legislation, unused for many years – including those for urban development corporations, new towns, simplified planning zones, planning inquiry commissions, and archaeological areas – and even some hangovers from the 1940s
- Avoiding overlapping systems of control, by bringing together applications for listed building consent, conservation area consent and planning permission, whilst maintaining existing levels of protection for heritage
The Law Commission is a non-political independent body, set up by Parliament in 1965 to keep all the law of England and Wales under review, and to recommend reform where it is needed. Since then more than 2/3 of its recommendations have been accepted or implemented in whole or in part.
The project was agreed with the Welsh Government as part of the Commission’s 12th programme of law reform. Its terms of reference were to review the law relating to town and country planning in Wales and make recommendations to simplify and modernise the law. A scoping paper was launched in June 2016.
The Consultation Paper Planning Law in Wales is launched on 00:01 on Thursday 30 November 2017. Responses may be made until 1 March 2018. To respond, visit: https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/planning-law-in-wales/