An irreverent look at some of the hot topics in planning. All commentary is given in good faith but does not constitute advice! For specific help on planning matters, please contact us.

Development Management Changes #2 -Validation and amendments

April 12th, 2016

Following the recent changes to the Development Management system in Wales, there is now a requirement for LPA’s to notify applicants of any reasons why their application is considered invalid. The applicant can appeal against this non-validation of an application to Welsh Government (via PINS). The appeal must be submitted within 2 weeks of the notice, and Welsh Government will have a period of 21 days to reach determination. If allowed, the application must be validated with the start date backdated to the date of the notice. If refused, the additional information initially requested by the LPA must be provided. Although a welcome stick to incentivise LPA’s to process applications quickly, and introduce clear validation checklists, will this recourse to appeal ever be an option worth pursuing? The LPA retains the application fee throughout the appeal process, and based on recent experience the Inspectorate will surely struggle to cope with further appeal submissions to validate and determine appeals.

A further change is that any amendments to a proposal submitted post-submission, and pre-determination will generate a fee payable to the LPA of £190 and an automatic extension of time for determination by 4 weeks. This applies, even if re-consultation of the proposal is not required as a result of the change. So whilst the evolution of a proposal to meet requirements is encouraged pre-application, the impacts of any changes, however minor, post submission result in further delay and expense to the applicant and slower decision making timetables. This seems somewhat contrary to the objectives that the Sir Humphreys in Cardiff set out for these changes.

An additional requirement will be for developers to notify the LPA that they intend to start development on site. This will apply to all decision notices issued after 16 March 2016, and will require the developer to submit the attached notification to the LPA and display a copy on site for the time that the development is under construction. This will provide the LPA with the opportunity to confirm that any relevant pre-commencement conditions are discharged and planning obligations complied with.

These changes seem to deliver little more than additional red tape, cost and delay and it will be interesting to see what effect they have on the planning system in Wales.