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.

Going our own way… but in what direction?

February 11th, 2016

An e-mail from a planner in England enquiring about the rules in Wales in respect of permitted development has brought to the fore just how different the planning system operating presently in Wales now is from that operating in England.

While we all operate a 1APP system for application forms, the similarities seem to end there. Fees are structured largely the same but are in differing amounts. So a change of use application in Bristol is £385 but is £380 in Newport. For the discharge of conditions it is £97 in Gloucester and £95 in Bridgend.

Then there are the use classes. While England has A3, A4 and A5 use classes to distinguish between certain types of food and drink uses, Wales has stuck with just the one.

Permitted development rights? If you want to convert an office to residential use, then in most places in England this needs no more than prior notification. Not so in Wales. The same goes for vacant agricultural buildings.

Then there’s policy. Wind turbines on a strategic scale? Yes please, says Carl Sargent. Not on your nelly, screams Amber Rudd. What about fracking? Well, the exact opposite, of course.

The “needs” test for new retail development? That was, sensibly, abolished in England following research that highlighted how it protected incumbent out of centre retailers and bore no relationship with the effect on the ground of new retailing. In Wales? Reinforced through recent proposed changes to retail guidance.

The forthcoming changes to Development Management in Wales that come into effect on 16th March will widen the gulf still further, particularly for major development. What changes do they hold? A forthcoming blog article by Nia Russell will reveal all!

Unhelpfully, the Welsh Government aren’t the best at publicising the changes or providing a consolidated compendium of planning law and procedure.

Luckily, there are still a few of us Wales based planning consultants who are keeping track!