The Welsh Government is introducing new regulations to maximise efficiency in the planning process based on recommendations put forward in an independent RTPI Cymru study.
The regulations require planning committees to consist of between 11 and 21 members, but no more than 50 per cent of the total members of the local authority. The regulations also limit membership of the planning committee to one elected member per ward, to ensure a member is available to act as local representative and become involved in local planning issues.
These are the recommendations in a study conducted in 2013 and commissioned by a steering group led by RTPI Cymru upon the invitation of Welsh ministers.
Members of the group, mainly RTPI members, include Roisin Willmott, RTPI Cymru; Chris Potts, Immediate Past Chair of RTPI Cymru; Sue Essex, former Planning Committee Chair; representatives of the Welsh Local Government Association; Rhun ap Gareth, Gwynedd Council; and John Maitland Evans, former Chief Executive of the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
The study analysed the operation of planning committees to determine whether there is a link between efficiency and effectiveness and committee size. A mix of research was used, including a survey of all Local Planning Authorities, detailed case studies of seven LPAs, as well as a number of stakeholder interviews.
Roisin Wilmott, Director RTPI Cymru, said:
“We are pleased to have been closely involved with the work to improve the Welsh planning system. The size of planning committees in Wales has fluctuated significantly over the years with both increases and decreases observed, often to the detriment of performance.
"These changes are necessary to ensure planning committee structures are consistent and fit for purpose, and to assist the development of highly skilled, effective planning committees throughout Wales.”