AGENDA ITEM NO. 9

COUNTY COUNCIL
13TH MAY 2015

Planning (Wales) Bill

Purpose: To provide Members with an update on the Planning Bill

RECOMMENDATIONS / KEY DECISIONS REQUIRED:
None

REASONS:
This report is for information only

Relevant scrutiny committee consulted - NO
Exec Board Decision Required NO
Council Decision Required NO

EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER PORTFOLIO HOLDER:-

Directorate - Environment
Name of Head of Service:
Eifion Bowen
Report Author:
Eifion Bowen

Designations:
Head of Planning

Tel Nos. 01267 228918

E Mail Addresses:
ebowen@sirgar.gov.uk

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
COUNTY COUNCIL
13TH MAY2015

Planning (Wales) Bill

T
Planning (Wales) Bill was introduced to the National Assembly on the 6th October 2014, and a planning seminar was held on the 22nd January 2015 in order to outline the main proposals to members. This report provides an update on the Bill’s progress and highlights certain key aspect of the new Bill.

The Bill is designed to strengthen the plan-led approach to planning and introduces a new legal framework for the Welsh Ministers to prepare a national land use plan, to be known as the National Development Framework for Wales (NDF). It will replace the current Wales Spatial Plan and will involve a 12 week consultation period. The NDF will fulfill a number of roles, including setting out the Welsh Government’s land use priorities and providing a national land use framework for Strategic and Local Development Plans and concentrate on development and land use issues of national significance which the planning system is able to influence and deliver.

The plan-led approach is further strengthened through making provision for the production of Strategic Development Plans, to tackle larger-than-local cross-boundary issues, such as housing supply and areas for economic growth and regeneration. This will allow such issues to be considered and planned for in an integrated and comprehensive way. Universal coverage of Strategic Development Plans across Wales is not proposed and does not specify where Strategic Development Plans should be prepared, to allow for future flexibility, although the most likely areas to benefit from this approach are the largest urban areas such as Cardiff and Swansea.

The Local planning authorities’ statutory duty to prepare a Local Development Plan and keep it under review will remain. The Bill is designed to improve the process and help to ensure that they are kept up-to-date and relevant for making decisions on planning applications and appeals. The Welsh Ministers will be able to direct local planning authorities to work together to produce a joint Local Development Plan. Plans will have a fixed time period at the end of which they cease to be the development plan for the area unless a review has been undertaken. LDPs will also be required to comply with the policies in any SDP and the NDF.

A further tier of plans is also proposed. Place Plans are proposed as Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) that must be consistent with the LDP. They will not have development plan status; instead ‘status’ will be achieved by the link to the LDP. Place Plans are designed to encourage greater community engagement in local planning decision making by allowing communities to shape their localities. Place Plans will set out the more detailed thematic, or site specific, guidance to supplement the policies and proposals presented in an LDP. Town and Community Councils will be able to work pro-actively with LPAs so that resources are used more effectively. They could also provide a steer to distribute funding raised from a Community Infrastructure Levy, potentially accessing 15% of funds to support local ‘infrastructure’.
A further objective of the Bill is to reform the development management system to streamline procedures, to ensure that applications are dealt with promptly, providing certainty for developers and communities; through:

    1. Making provision for pre-application consultation, and to require local planning authorities to provide pre-application services. There will be two elements to the pre-application procedure:
    pre application consultation – this will introduce a statutory requirement for developers to engage with the public and other consultees on certain applications
    Pre application services – this will set a minimum national standard and allow a prospective developer and local planning authority to discuss a project before it is submitted.
    2. Providing for planning applications for nationally-significant projects to be made to the Welsh Ministers. This new category of development will be known as Developments of National Significance (DNS). The types of applications to be handled under this process are those of greatest significance to Wales in terms of their potential impacts. These will include energy projects between 25-50 megawatts. Planning applications that fall under this category will be able to be submitted to the Welsh Ministers in the first instance. These proposals will be subject to pre-application notification and consultation in order to discuss and resolve any issues before the application is made.
    3. Allow applicants for planning permission to apply to the Welsh Ministers for planning permission where a local planning authority is deemed to be poorly performing. The Welsh Ministers will have a power to designate a local planning authority as poorly performing and to revoke such designation at any time based on defined criteria. Where a local planning authority has been designated, applicants will be able to submit planning applications for major development to the Welsh Ministers.

Improve enforcement and appeal procedures, and the provisions will reduce the opportunities to delay effective enforcement action by preventing developers from repeatedly submitting either applications or appeals where they have already failed to obtain planning permission, as well as:

    n Providing local planning authorities with the power to require the submission of retrospective planning applications where unauthorised development can be regularised and controlled by planning conditions
    n Providing a power to decline to determine retrospective planning applications for development that is subject to an enforcement notice.

Planning legislation allows applicants to appeal to the Welsh Ministers against the decision of a local planning authority. The planning appeal system is administered on the behalf of the Welsh Ministers by the Planning Inspectorate Wales. A very small number of appeals are recovered for decision by the Welsh Ministers. The Bill will provide for a number of changes that are aimed to improve the efficiency, transparency and fairness of the planning appeals system and will:
n introduce a new appeal process where the validity of a planning application is disputed
n prohibit the variation or amendment of a planning application after an appeal has been made
n only allow new matters to be raised during an appeal in exceptional circumstances
n consolidate the costs regime for appeals, applications and references to the Welsh Ministers (‘’call-ins’’)
n allow the Welsh Ministers to write procedure rules for inquiries and hearings.

Make changes in relation to applications to register town and village greens. The Bill will modify the process for town and village greens applications where the site is subject to a planning process, to avoid parallel processes that are confusing for all. The existing strong protection for registered town and village greens remains unchanged.

A number of amendment were accepted under Stage 2, which was the Committee Stage, and included:

    NDF to have a specified period of which it is to have effect; (previously open ended)
    Welsh Language impact assessments to be required during preparation of NDF, SDPs and LDPs
    Strategic Planning Panels (the body that will be developing SDPs) - nominated members to be appointed by the panel from a list of nominating organisations published by the Minister. Nominated members will not be entitled to vote & quorum for meetings of the panel must include at least half of the LPA members.
    Determination period of 36 weeks for DNS applications
    Ministerial power for joint planning boards to exercise development management functions for all or part of a national park

The Bill is currently at Stage 3, a Plenary session to consider amendments which involves further detailed consideration of each section of the Bill, by the whole Assembly. Amendments can be tabled and voted on by the whole Assembly, of which there are a number. Government amendments include:

    Joint Planning Boards to have regard to local Well Being plans
    Applicants making a DNS application to notify LPA and that local impact reports can be submitted by a community council
    WG to consult on criteria to determine whether a LPA is poorly performing.
    Removal of restriction that Strategic Planning Panels nominate representatives from a list published by the Minister
    Powers to the Minister to make additional regulations re the composition of SPP e.g. gender balance & non-compliance
    Planning function to be exercised in accordance with Wellbeing of Future Generations Act

Non-government amendments include:

    Establishment of a Planning inspectorate for Wales
    Statutory purpose of Town and Country Planning
    Independent examination of National Development Framework
    Welsh Language :
    to be a material consideration (supported by Carl Sargeant)
    Assessment to be carried out on planning applications, classes to which this applies to be set out in regulations.
    Regulations requiring the Minister to consult with Welsh Language Commissioner & such organisations that have expertise in relation to the development and use of the Welsh Language.
    Role for Welsh Language Commissioner to keep under review the adequacy and effectiveness of Welsh Language impact assessments
    Community involvement – a right of appeal in certain circumstances
    Health Impact Assessments - to be carried out for certain classes of development

The Plenary session is programmed to be heard on the 5th of May.
Stage 4 will involve a short debate and a vote by the whole Assembly on whether to approve the final text of the Bill; this could follow the Stage 3 debate. If the Bill passes through all four stages, and there is no referral to the Supreme Court the Bill will receive Royal Assent (mid June is currently the aspiration).
The implementation of a number of the proposals contained in the Bill will require subordinate legislation. Further details have been provided by consultation documents covering topics such as planning committees, delegation and joint planning boards, frontloading the development management system, design in the planning process and review of planning application fees. Other topics will be covered in statements of policy intent which will be published in due course.

DETAILED REPORT ATTACHED?

Power Point

IMPLICATIONS

I confirm that other than those implications which have been agreed with the appropriate Directors / Heads of Service and are referred to in detail below, there are no other implications associated with this report :

Signed: Eifion Bowen Head of Planning

Policy, Crime & Disorder and Equalities

Legal

Finance

ICT

Risk Management Issues

Staffing Implications

Physical Assets

NONE

YES

YES

YES

NONE

YES

NONE

Legal
The Bill will introduce new requirements on Local Planning Authorities, however much of the detail will be in secondary legislation.

Finance
Potential increase of income from pre-application advice service, also potential loss from DNS applications being submitted directly to the Minster and potential for significantly loss of income should the authority be designated as poorly performing.

ICT
The production of an Annual Report will involve amendments to back office systems.

Staffing Implications - the new requirements and procedure will involve training programmes for staff.

CONSULTATIONS

I confirm that the appropriate consultations have taken in place and the outcomes are as detailed below
Signed: Eifion Bowen Head of Planning

1. Scrutiny Committee - N/A
2. Local Member(s) - a Planning Seminar was held for all members on the 22nd of
January 2015
3. Community / Town Council a Planning Seminar as held for Town and Community
Council on the 13th of February, the event was attended by 84 Councillors
representing 44 Councils
4. Relevant Partners - N/A
5. Staff Side Representatives and other Organisations - opportunities for staff to comment have been provided through consultation events, including those organised by the Royal Town Planning Institute.

Section 100D Local Government Act, 1972 – Access to Information
List of Background Papers used in the preparation of this report:

Title of Document

File Ref No.

Locations that the papers are available for public inspection

Planning Bill (as amended after Stage 2)

 

http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/documents/s38562/Planning%20Wales%20Bill%20-%20As%20amended%20at%20Stage%202.pdf

Planning committees, delegation and joint planning boards

 

http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/planning/planning-committees-delegation-and-joint-housing-boards/?lang=en

Frontloading the development management system

 

http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/planning/frontloading-the-development-management-system/?lang=en

Proposed amendments to legislation on the power to override easements and other rights

 

http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/planning/amendments-to-easements-and-other-rights/?lang=en

Review of Planning Application Fees

 

http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/planning/review-of-planning-application-fees/?lang=en

Consultation on Design in the Planning Process

 

http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/planning/design-in-the-planning-process/?lang=en

WGC 016/2014: The Use of Planning Conditions for Development Management

 

http://wales.gov.uk/topics/planning/policy/circulars/welshgovcirculars/wgc-16-2014/?lang=en