The Welsh Government has recently announced the next tranche of changes to come into force under the Planning Act, relating principally to development management and EIA. Measures come into force on 16th March, except where highlighted below. The changes are extensive, however the key changes include:
Requirement for Design and Access Statements only for major applications or applications in Conservation Areas or World Heritage Sites (subject to thresholds). This follows The Urbanists recommendations to WG contained within our commissioned research report relating to the effectiveness of DASs in the development planning process;
Standardisation of pre-application process and pre-application fees throughout Wales;
Obligation on applicants to undertake pre-application consultation for major applications - the complete (draft) planning application to be made publicly available for inspection for at least 28 days before the application is submitted; this involves displaying a site notice during this time to alert people to the availability of the proposals; plus a requirement to undertake consultations with statutory and community consultees. The applicant then has to provide a pre-application consultation report explaining how the procedures were complied with, what issues were raised in consultation, and whether, or how, they have been addressed;
Procedure for appeals against invalid applications;
Procedure to formally submit amendments to a planning application before it is determined, with a fee;
Requirement for a LPA to specify all approved plans and documents on the decision notice, in accord with which the development is to be carried out;
Requirement for developer to formally notify a LPA before commencing development (major development) and to confirm that all pre-commencement conditions have been complied with. Failure to have met any of the conditions would then be apparent; Furthermore a public notice is to be displayed at the site (including a plan) for the whole duration of construction confirming the planning permission details and the address where a person can acquire further information on the permission and conditions (the LPA);
New use class for houses of multiple occupancy;
New EIA Regulations to replace the 1999 Regs, including increasing the screening threshold for industrial estate development to 5ha (except within a sensitive area as defined), plus three replacement threshold criteria for urban development projects (raised from 0.5ha): if it includes more than 1 ha of non-residential development or includes more than 150 dwelling houses, or the total area exceeds 5ha - then it would need to be screened. The changes also update the Regulations in line with the previous requirements in terms of screening extensions to projects and requirements relating to multi-stage consents in terms of the potential for further information.
A Development Management Manual is due to be issued when the legislation comes into force.
The relevant documents referred to in the changes are provided on the WG website under 'letters to Chief Planning Officers': http://gov.wales/topics/planning/policy/dear-cpo-letters/new-development-management-procedures/?lang=en
The Urbanists provide extensive planning consultancy services covering the above requirements, including consultations, and would be pleased to assist with any enquiries. Please contact Mark Farrar to discuss any aspect of these changes in more detail or for further information.