RTPI Cymru Wales’ Best Places 2016 – Coming soon

The Wales’ Best Places (WBP) initiative will be launched at the RTPI Cymru Spring Conference on 19th April in Llandudno. WBP is a competition designed to celebrate some of our most attractive and inspiring places and it’s open to everyone to vote for their favourite place. Nominations will be invited from RTPI members and the public until 10th June. Then a shortlist will be chosen by a judging panel, with a vote for your favourite in a top ten. Voting for the top ten will be launched at the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol between 29th July and 6th August, which is in Abergavenny this year and will close at the end of Setpember.

Anyone can nominate their best place but each place will be judged against how it was shaped, protected or improved by planners and the planning system. There is no single definition of what is a ‘best place’ it’s really up to everyone where they vote for. It might be a natural landscape, an historic town or perhaps a national park. It could be a vibrant and diverse community, a special place within a town or city or a neighbourhood.

The team at Prospero Planning area already thinking about our nominations so get your thinking caps on and get involved!

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Wales Planning Conference 2016 – Come and join Prospero Planning!

The RTPI Cymru Wales Planning Conference for 2016 is ‘A new planning landscape for Wales – delivering positively’. The conference theme is around the implementation of the measures introduced in the Planning (Wales) Act 2015 and looks to discuss ‘How can these changes be delivered positively with reducing public budgets?’

The Wales Planning Conference will take place on Thursday 9th June 2016 at Cardiff City Hall with a pre-conference networking event in the City Hall the night before. Prospero Planning will have an exhibition stand during both the networking event and the conference and will also be running one of the conference breakout sessions. We hope to see as many of our planning colleagues from both the public and private sectors for a chat about how the development management changes are working for them.  We’re also keen to ensure maximum participation in the breakout session!

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Following the changes to Development Management in Wales

Prospero Planning was pleased to be able to attend a recent Welsh Government session on behalf of RTPI Cymru to discuss the changes being made to development management in Wales. Prospero is placed in an interesting position with the changes because we’re trying to get our heads around it on behalf of our clients in the private sector, but we’re also working at the heart of planning with two current contracts in Local Planning Authorities where we’re experiencing the difficulties in implementing the changes with heavy workloads! What seems like a minor change on the outside can have huge implications for IT and the like now that the majority of what we do is computer based.

The message from our minister has always been clear about the overhaul of the planning system, including Planning (Wales) Act 2015 ‘it is about ensuring that planning helps to deliver the growth and jobs that we need’.  Prospero Planning often discusses this issue, and we are 100% behind the sentiments, but it’s a tough ask of Planning alone. This is a team sport and to play to our best we need everyone to work together including developers, agents, internal and external consultees and the Welsh Government.

So what are these changes? In essence the majority of the changes are set about ‘front loading’ the planning system. So that, in theory, by the time a planning application is submitted (particularly a major one) all of the issues have been ironed out during pre-application discussions and pre-consultation exercises and the application should move more smoothly and quickly through the system. In a nutshell, these are the changes:

  • All LPAs in Wales will need to provide written pre-application advice service covering householder, minor and major developments with a standardised fee and a response required within 21 days.
  • Sites for major applications will need to carry out pre-consultation with a  full copy of the planning application documents made available for a minimum of 28 days prior to submission.
  • Design and Access Statements (DAS) will only be required for major applications (with a  few exceptions) and for development in a Conservation Area for proposals involving 1 or more dwellings.
  • LPAs upon receipt of any planning application will need to check its validity and notify the applicant via a formal notice if the application is considered invalid and why. The applicant then has the right of appeal to the Welsh Government (WG) within 2 weeks of the date of the notice. The WG then need to reach a determination within 21 days. If the appeal is allowed, the application is registered as valid (and the 8 or 13 week determination period will be considered started on the date it was received NOT the date of the appeal decision).
  • Further changes for major developments include a fee for amendments during the course of the application (and an additional 4 weeks for determining), notifying the LPA of an intention to start works and displaying a notice detailing the most up to date planning decision for the development for the duration of works on site.

Watch this space as we provide more commentary at this very exciting (and challenging) time for planning in Wales and how it’s all working out.

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Planning (Wales) Act 2015 Receives Royal Assent!

A hugely exiting development (well we think so anyway) happened in Wales last week when an official sealing ceremony was held and where First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones applied the Welsh Seal, signed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, to the Letters Patent meaning that the Planning Act Bill (passed by the National Assembly in May) officially becomes an Act of the Assembly.

This will have a real impact on how the Welsh planning system works, allowing Welsh ministers to approve planning applications for national projects, providing a modern legislative framework for the planning system in Wales, bringing it firmly into the 21st century.

We’re royally over the moon at this most regal of developments and can’t wait to see a blossoming in Welsh planning and architecture as a result. We’re hoping to see many more environmentally sustainable developments as a result of the bill.

If you have any questions about the recent changes to Town Planning then get in touch, we’ll talk you through all of the particulars.

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Royal Town Planning Institute for Planning Excellence Awards

The annual RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence took place on Monday 6th July. The ceremony was held at The Pullman London St Pancras hotel and was attended by a stonking 450 people! Our very own Emma Langmaid was a judge for two of the categories, Small Consultancy of the Year and Economically Successful Places. Unfortunately Emma was unable to attend the awards, however, we were all so pleased to find that two Welsh entries brought excellence awards home to the Land of our Fathers. Snowdonia National Park Authority in the Excellence in Planning for Community and Well-Being category for their work on Ysgol Craig y Deryn and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council in the Excellence in Planning for the Public Realm category for the River Taff Central Link and Penderyn Square. We want to say a huge congratulations to both planning authorities, the awards were incredibly well deserved, we’re only sorry we couldn’t be there to raise the roof when they announced them as winners!

The big winner of the night, taking home the prestigious RTPI Silver Jubilee Cup was Thames Tideway Tunnel Ltd for their work on The Thames Tideway Tunnel (surprisingly enough). The tunnel (which will take seven years to complete) will be 25 kilometres long, 7.2 metres wide and will sit 35-65m below the surface, it’s designed to prevent the 39 million tonnes of untreated sewage that currently enters the Thames each year – an important project!

The RTPI Awards is always a Planning calendar highlight full of well deserving consultancies, Local Authorities and up and coming companies, role on next year, we already can’t wait to see the results!

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