Draft changes to Welsh planning policy out for consultation

Planning authorities in Wales could be instructed to look favourably on applications for economic land uses which are not in accordance with their development plans if the economic benefits outweigh adverse impacts.

The proposal is contained in a consultation on a redrafting of the supporting economic development section of Wales' national planning policy document, which was launched on Monday.

Wales' planning and environment minister John Griffiths said that chapter seven of Planning Policy Wales, which covers how planning policy should support economic development, had been redrafted to ensure that planning plays a more prominent part in the principality’s economic recovery.

The draft chapter says that: "Planning authorities should look favourably on applications for economic land uses which are not in accordance with the development plan if the economic benefits of the development are demonstrated to outweigh any adverse impacts."

The consultation document says that "there is a perception that planning policy for economic development needed updating and that the policy should be set against the Welsh government’s legal duty to promote sustainable development".

It adds: "Under certain circumstances there is a perception that the economic component of sustainable development has been overlooked in the decision making process at the expense of economic and social progress in Wales."

Griffiths said: "The Welsh Government is determined to use all available policies to support economic recovery in Wales in concerted way. Part of this means making sure that our planning policies are aligned with other economic polices to ensure that the planning system supports economic recovery."

He added: "The proposed changes to Planning Policy Wales provide guidance to local planning authorities on the important role that economic considerations should have in the planning and decision making process."

The consultation on the redraft will inform the work of the independent advisory group looking at how the planning system in Wales should be delivered in the future, as well as a review of which areas of governance could best be organised at a city region level in Wales, the Welsh Government said. Both groups were announced in October this year.

The consultation closes in early March and a copy of the draft document can be found here.

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