Law Commission sets out plans to streamline Welsh planning law 'jungle'

A new planning code for Wales is needed to streamline a 'jungle of acts, rules and regulations', according to the Law Commission.

Development: consultation says that Welsh planning rules are hampering delivery
Development: consultation says that Welsh planning rules are hampering delivery

Launching a consultation today, the Law Commission said 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".

The Law Commission examines ways to reform areas of law on behalf of the government.

The consultation follows a scoping paper, published in July 2016, which set out the body’s provisional views as to the nature and scope of a possible simplification exercise for Welsh planning law.

The consultation 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.
  • Making it easier to understand when permission or consent is needed.
  • Simplifying the process of getting permission by 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.
  • Repealing obsolete legislation, unused for many years, including those for urban development corporations, new towns, simplified planning zones, planning inquiry commissions, and archaeological areas.
  • Avoiding overlapping systems of control by bringing together applications for listed building consent, conservation area consent and planning permission.

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."

The consultation runs until 1 March 2018 and can be found here.

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