A major new report has concluded that under resourced planning services in Wales are struggling to manage a complex system ‘in the face of insufficient capacity and reduced resources’.
The report by the Wales Audit Office, launched today at the RTPI Wales Planning Conference, found that Welsh local planning authorities lack the resilience needed to deliver long-term improvements.
Image: Nick Selwyn from the Wales Audit Office launching the new report at the RTPI Wales Planning Conference
Planning services in Wales have seen budget cuts of 50 per cent over the last decade, leading to the stretching of planning officer capacity and a decrease in skills in key areas. Problems have been further exacerbated by a drop in the number of trainees entering the profession.
RTPI Cymru Director Roisin Willmott said: “It is important that the Wales Audit Office have recognised the need for more resources for the planning profession, something that we have long campaigned for. This is essential if local authorities are to deliver local plans, act in accordance with sustainable development principles and contribute to the wellbeing of people and communities.
“The RTPI has been taking measures to promote careers in planning which we hope will encourage an increased and more diverse entry into the profession. However, these developments will not be enough on their own, without proper resourcing.”
The report from the Wales Audit Office also found that 67 per cent of people questioned felt that local planning authorities are not effectively engaging with them in their planning proposals. Many also said that they felt that planners were focussed more on individual applications than supporting the creation of a better and more sustainable society.
Roisin Willmott acknowledged that the planning profession must continue to improve at communicating with the public.
However, she said: “Working with incredibly limited resources, local authority planning teams in Wales are doing sterling work in supporting the development of new homes, promoting conservation, improving local infrastructure, and ultimately, creating a better and more sustainable society.
"The Government and local authorities need to work in partnership to improve performance and resilience of planning services and the RTPI looks forward to supporting this activity."