Welsh planning law set for major shake-up

The Law Commission has proposed a wide-ranging shake-up of planning law in Wales. A report published this week calls for more than 190 technical reforms.

New primary legislation in the shape of a planning act is expected to carry through the changes, designed as the centrepiece of a fresh planning code for the country.

The report found that the legislation governing the planning system in Wales was “confused and unhelpful”. It has been much amended and supplemented over the past 30 years, is full of obsolete provisions and does not meet current best practice.

The report contains 193 recommendations to simplify the legislation and make it fit for purpose. These include:

  • making clear the principles underlying the planning system in Wales;
  • simplifying the law in respect of when planning permission is required;
  • clarifying the status of outline planning applications;
  • tightening up the law on pre-commencement conditions;
  • enabling planning obligations to be entered into by prospective purchasers;
  • rationalising penalties for breaches of planning control;
  • simplifying the authorisation of works to listed buildings;
  • enabling landowners to discover when they need various special consents;
  • enabling authorities to remove unauthorised advertisement hoardings;
  • tightening up control over works to protected trees;
  • simplifying the law on High Court challenges; and
  • clarifying the definition of some technical terms.

The commission has also proposed the repeal of unused legislative provisions such as those relating to planning inquiry commissions, simplified planning zones, enterprise zones, new towns, urban development corporations, rural development boards, archaeological areas and advertisement appeals tribunals.

“Most of these have not been used for 30 years or more and some have never been used at all,” commented the commission.

The Welsh Government will provide an interim response to the report by the end of May 2019, and a detailed response by the end of November 2019.

The commission published a consultation paper a year ago. The overall response to its proposals was strongly favourable.

The report and more information can be found on the Law Commission website.