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Planning law in Wales set to be modernised and simplified

There are at least 48 pieces of legislation relating to planning and the use of land in Wales. The result is a complicated and inaccessible system, which has been described as "exceptionally difficult for non-legal professionals, let alone the members of the public who seek to engage with [it]." 

The Law Commission has issued a consultation seeking views on the simplification and consolidation of planning legislation in Wales, with the eventual aim of producing a Planning Code for Wales.

It is envisaged that the first phase will be the introduction of a planning code. This will deal with the core parts of the planning system, described as planning and development management. It will cover the process for managing new developments by granting or refusing planning permission, planning appeals, and investigating breaches of planning control. 

Subsequent phases could cover matters such as the historic environment, the rural environment, regeneration and development and hazardous substances. Views are being sought on the detail of these phases.

The objective is to restate the existing law in a modern, consistent and well-ordered way. This includes modernising the language used and removing ambiguities, streamlining and rationalising processes and procedures, as well as codifying rules and interpretations developed from case law.

Examples of matters that could be clarified in the code, include:

  • Whether the procedure set out in section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA 1990) is the best mechanism for minor material amendments;
  • The treatment of reserved matters;
  • The purposes for which the local planning authority can require steps or activities to be undertaken in an enforcement notice under section 173(4).

The consultation is open until 30 September 2016.  The Law Commission will then decide on its final recommendations and present them to the Welsh Government.

Contributor: Alexandra Holsgrove Jones

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at July 2016. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

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