Wales planning news, July 2019


Wales planning news, July 2019

01 Jul 2019



Headline news


Draft Development Plans Manual (Edition 3) published for consultation

The Welsh Government has published a draft version of the Development Plans Manual (Edition 3) which once finalised will replace the previous iteration of the Manual that was published in 2015.

The update has been published to reflect significant changes to planning legislation and national policy that have been implemented since 2015, specifically in relation to the Planning Wales Act 2015, the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015, and the Planning Policy Wales (Edition 10).

The draft manual presents a step change in approach from previous iterations as it seeks to provide detailed technical guidance. The 3 tier development plan system is at the heart of the draft Manual, with the National Development Framework sitting at the top, followed by Strategic Development Plans and light LDP’s at the bottom. The draft Manual introduces a new ‘general conformity’ test with ambitious timescales for plan preparation. The front loading of evidence in plan preparation is a key component of the draft manual, including high level viability testing at the candidate site stage. Whilst the draft manual does not set out a preferred viability model, it does include guidance on key components and considerations. The draft manual also mirrors PPW10 which seeks to limit a viability case being presented at the development management stage to exceptional circumstances only – this will clearly be a key area of contention.

The draft Manual is out for consultation until 30 August 2019.

Welsh Government, Development Plans Manual (Edition 3), Consultation Draft

Welsh Government, Draft Development Plans Manual (Edition 3), Consultation Document



Quote of the month

Despite the new legislation and heightened expectation on the contribution planning can make to delivering the aspirations of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, local planning authorities have seen a significant reduction in capacity and struggle to deliver their statutory responsibilities.
Auditor General for Wales’s findings regarding the effectiveness of Local Planning Authorities in Wales


New long term plan for managing flood and coastal erosion in Wales

The Welsh Government has published a draft National Strategy for flood and coastal erosion risk management. Once finalised the Strategy will set out how the Government and its partners intend to manage the risks from flooding and coastal erosion across Wales over the next eight years.

The Strategy sets out a draft framework for achieving five objectives: improving the understanding and communication of risk, building resilience, prioritising investment to communities at most risk, preventing more people becoming exposed to risk and providing an effective and sustained response to events. It is therefore a broad reaching document.

TAN15, the planning guidance document on flooding, is being updated alongside the strategy. It will provide a clearer approach to managing areas at medium and high risk of flooding but overall it will still discourage proposals in high risk areas. The Development Advice Maps will be withdrawn and the Wales Flood Map will provide the key source of up to date advice for planners. It will be necessary to review the revised TAN15 to understand the implications for future development management decisions and we’ll provide an insight once this is made available.

The consultation ends on 16 September 2019.

Welsh Government, New long term plan for managing flood and coastal erosion in Wales

Welsh Government, National Strategy for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management, Consultation Document


Wales Audit Office publishes report on the effectiveness of local planning authorities in Wales

The Wales Audit Office (WAO) has published a report on the effectiveness of Local Planning Authorities in Wales, which highlights the insufficient capacity and limited resources available to local planning services.

The WAO Report revealed that Local Authorities’ budget for planning service has been cut by 50% in real terms over the last decade, as net expenditure has fallen from £45m in 2008/09 to £22.8m in 2017/18. Among other findings, the Report also highlighted that, while the number of planning applications has been relatively stable over the last four year (at around 24,000 application per annum), the number of applications processed on time have diminished.

Among its recommendations, the Report calls for the Welsh Government to review development control fees to ensure that these better reflect the actual cost of providing the relevant planning services.

The Auditor General concluded that Planning Authorities in Wales ‘are not resilient enough to deliver long-term improvements because of their limited capacity and the challenge of managing a complex system’. RTPI Cymru Director Roisin Willmott commented the WAO’s findings and recommendations stressing the need for proper resourcing for planning services.

Wales Audit Office, The effectiveness of Local Planning Authorities in Wales

RTPI Cymru, RTPI Cymru calls for more resourcing for planning in light of Wales Audit Office Report

M4 Relief Road cancelled following Welsh Government’s decision

The Welsh Government has announced that the M4 Relief Road scheme around Newport has been cancelled, following the conclusion of a public inquiry into the project.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford addressed the National Assembly for Wales explaining the reasons for his decision to refuse to make the necessary Compulsory Purchase Orders and progress the scheme, following his consideration of the Inspector’s report. He mentioned the ‘significant level of expenditure needed to deliver the M4’ project’ as the main reasons for refusal, given the ‘unacceptable impact’ this would have had on other Welsh Government’s priorities.

Although the complicated financial position of the scheme meant that the project could have not been implemented in the foreseeable future, the Welsh First Minister confirmed that also if he had to assess the scheme’s advantages and disadvantages he would have chosen not to make the schemes and orders against the Inspector’s recommendations. This mostly in light of the greater weight he recognised to the adverse impacts that the project would have had on the environment and ecology.

As confirmed by a Written Statement issued the following day by the Welsh Minister for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates, the Welsh Government has immediately appointed an expert Commission (the South East Wales Transport Commission) tasked with making recommendations about alternative solutions to improve the transport network in South East Wales. The Commission will report on its interim findings within six months of its establishment.

Welsh Government, Re: Various Schemes and Orders in relation to the M4 Corridor around Newport

National Assembly for Wales, Statement by the First Minister: The M4 Corridor around Newport

Welsh Government, Written Statement: M4 Newport, Next Steps

Welsh Government confirms its ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2050

The Welsh Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, has issued a Written Statement to respond to the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change’s report ‘Net Zero – The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming’.

The Environment Minister confirmed that the Welsh Government has already approved a legally-binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by ‘at least 80%’ in 2050; furthermore, the Welsh Government has also recently declared a climate emergency.

Accordingly, Lesly Griffiths said that the Welsh Government believes that it is necessary to go further than what recommended by the Committee on Climate Change (i.e. 95% reduction in greenhouse gas emission by 2050) and confirmed its ambition to achieve net zero emission by 2050.

Welsh Government, Written Statement: Response to Committee on Climate Change’s Net Zero report



The Lichfields perspective


Whilst the Wales Audit Office report makes for challenging reading, its findings are not a surprise for those working in or with Local Planning Authorities, whether that is through plan-making or the development management process. Resources are likely to be pushed to the limits in the short term with proposals in the emerging Development Plans Manual further increasing resource demands earlier in the plan making process. It’s important therefore that the views from across the industry inform the final version to ensure that the expectations are achievable in order to deliver much needed development in Wales.

Helen Ashby-Ridgway, Associate Director



Disclaimer: This publication has been written in general terms and cannot be relied on to cover specific situations. We recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from acting on any of the contents of this publication. Lichfields accepts no duty of care or liability for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of any material in this publication. Lichfields is the trading name of Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners Limited. Registered in England, no.2778116