Speaking at the RTPI Cymru Annual Conference in Cardiff, Environment Minister Jane Davidson today announced a review of the planning application process in Wales. The Minister was speaking to an audience of over 250 planners and other key stakeholders at the biggest annual planning conference in Wales, focusing on \"Delivering the Welsh Planning System\" held on Tuesday 2nd June at Cardiff City Hall.
Given the extensive change that has occurred in planning policy and delivery in recent years in Wales, the conference focused on delivering the planning system in a time of economic challenge.
Ms Davidson said:
\"The planning application process has a key role in supporting the economy of Wales. It is central in our attempts to tackle climate change, shape our communities and support sustainable economic development. I want to see improvements to streamline the planning application process. We want to make sure the planning system is ready to support the economic upturn when it comes. Our evidence shows that 85 to 90 per cent of applications are in fact approved. However, our review will look to identify any blockages and potential areas of improvement. I want to ensure that those regulatory systems for which I am responsible, are contributing constructively to economic recovery in Wales.
\"The planning system must be efficient, delivering decisions which are open, fair, consistent and transparent. It is essential that the system inspires public and business confidence, delivering quality development and places, particularly in the light of challenging economic circumstances.
Roisin Willmott, National Director at RTPI Cymru said:
\"The planning system plays an important role in enhancing our environment and building quality places. This review is welcomed to ensure that we have a system in Wales which is able to deliver an efficient service without compromising the quality of its decisions. Currently there are too many minor applications washing across the desks of hard pressed Welsh planners which don't need to be there and so we would like to see the Review investigate how permitted development can be extended to create a faster and importantly more user friendly planning process.
The new funding allocated to local planning authorities is also welcome news; however the review needs to also consider the effective resourcing of local planning authorities so that they are able to deliver. Their key role in delivering economic growth opportunities and regeneration has to be recognised and resourced appropriately- particularly in these difficult economic times.\"
At the conference, the Minister also revealed an extra £1.75 million of support for Local Planning Authorities, to be distributed equally among all 25 local planning authorities in Wales. Each planning authority will receive £70,000 to support local improvements in delivery of their planning service, whilst a further £250,000 will support cross-Wales activity.
The conference included a range of plenary sessions, exhibitors, study tours and a drinks reception, and featured a range of speakers including Leonora Rozee, Deputy Chief Executive of the Planning Inspectorate, and John Stewart, Director of Economic Affairs at the Home Builders Federation, who gave his views on delivering housing in Wales in the difficult economic climate.