Thursday, 6 September 2012

Welsh planning changes signalled

There must be something in the air today. Not only have we had the announcement of major planning changes in England, but the BBC is reporting that Welsh Ministers in Cardiff are preparing to announce proposed changes that could shift the balance of Welsh planning policy, compared with the relentlessly pro-environment ‘green’ approach that has been followed in the principality recently. A formal announcement is expected next month.

It is reported that the proposed change “will tilt the balance in favour of economic growth over the environment and social factors” and that councils will be advised to take full account of the economic benefits of planning applications. It is suggested that in some cases these could now outweigh other factors such as the environment.

What I have not yet been able to establish is whether the change of approach which is apparently in contemplation will take the form of a general overhaul of Planning Policy Wales, or whether it is simply a proposed draft TAN on development and the economy. We may have to await next month’s expected announcement to find out.



  1. From an Assembly Member in January:

    "However I am giving priority to enabling changes in planning policies, such as the draft TAN on economic development currently in consultation which I spoke about in last week's debate.

    I believe changes to a presumption in favour of sustainable development will prove positive, as well the enterprise zone announcement due next week.

    Now that planning policy will be transformed in the forthcoming planning bill and that the number of development control authorities radically reduced with all-Wales spatial planning consistency, I believe we should more development opportunity.

    I am also of the view that planning inspectorate changes will be helpful."

    The 'green' approach was the pet project of a departed Minister, this must be unravelled.

    Wales is about to see a complete overhaul of the planning system, this will hopefully create more joined up thinking instead of the current postcode lottery.

    Designated areas are highly likely to lose their planning powers due to the conflict of interest which is created by the legislation. The creation of a new single environmental body will probably mean the designated areas will lose their status and become part of this body which is why a director is surprised by the proposed reduction in importance of the environment.

    I believe the Welsh Government has listened to the people instead of those who have well paid jobs in the area of preventing development.

  2. From a former Welsh Government official:

    "This is quite interesting insofar as a reduction in the number of planning authorities (thus making them think more strategically) might co-incide with the introduction of a presumption in favour of sustainable development. Now I can well recall that the introduction of a 'special presumption' in favout of housing development by Nicholas Edwards back in the early 80's led to a large increase in the number of developments allowed on appeal."

  3. Martin. WG consulted on replacement to PPW CH 7 last year. Assumption here in Wales is that the change will be that revision. Was at same time consultation on an outline TAN framework. Expect both?

  4. Interesting piece, especially to me as I am about to make a planning application to site 6 yurts on my 4-acre plot in West Wales in an effort to resolve my employment situation. Currently the planning dept is being very negative, saying that such developments should be close to towns and not sited in SLAs (Special Landscape Areas, such as the one I live in).

    This completely ignores the issue of people in an economically deprived area trying to use their resources properly, or the benefit that such development brings in terms of the 'upmarket' demographic that this kind of camping attracts, together with it higher spending power.

    The planners would seem content to stick with caravan sites next to busy main roads for the 'enjoyment' of tourists!

    I've seen no formal statement yet from the WA....have you seen anything?

    Excellent blog by the way - well done!

  5. There is a newly published revision of Planning Policy Wales. I have not had time to read it yet, but it may contain some of the answers. A Welsh Planning Bill is expected to follow, possibly next year.