Policy Summary: Welsh government's interim response to review of planning legislation

POLICY: Interim response to the Law Commission report on planning law in Wales.

Welsh Assembly: legislation on the way
Welsh Assembly: legislation on the way

ISSUED BY: Welsh Government

ISSUE DATE: 9 May 2019

Background: In 2016, independent public body the Law Commission published a paper that concluded planning law in Wales was "unnecessarily complicated and, in places, difficult to understand". The Welsh government then invited the statutory body to conduct a review of planning legislation. In December last year, the commission published a report with more than 190 recommendations that it hopes will lead to a new Planning Act and Planning Code for Wales. The government’s interim response has now been published and the commission expects a full response by November.

Key points: The Welsh government states that current planning legislation is "voluminous and fragmented", which "affects accessibility to the law". Ministers believe this situation potentially leads to delays in delivery of sustainable development and the need for legal advice to engage with the planning system. They accept that "simplification and consolidation of the law is essential".

The Welsh government is in the process of reorganising its laws into a series of distinct acts dealing with all legislation relating to a particular theme, and intends to publish further information on the process in the summer. The government supports the Law Commission’s call for an act bringing together land use planning legislation. Work has begun on a Planning Consolidation Bill which the government expects to be the "main delivery mechanism" for detailed recommendations it decides to take forward. Where more substantial policy reforms are needed to implement the commission’s recommendations, ministers say a separate law reform bill may be required to allow scrutiny by the National Assembly.

Legislation, including the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, will, the government says, be replaced by the Planning Consolidation Bill which will include, as far as possible, all planning-related primary legislation relating to the planning and management of development, the provision of infrastructure and other improvements, outdoor advertising and work to trees, public sector-led improvements and regeneration, and supplementary and miscellaneous provisions.

The government supports the commission’s view that provisions relating to the Community Infrastructure Levy should be included in the bill. It is considering a recommendation that listed building and conservation area consents could be merged with planning permission as part of the reorganisation of laws.

The recommendation that the power to acquire land for planning purposes, as set out in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, should be included in the new bill is "sensible", ministers say. However, they say the wider consolidation of compulsory purchase legislation will be the subject of a future exercise "given the size of the task and the complexity of this area of law". 

Interim response to the Law Commission report on planning law in Wales can be read here.

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