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.