(i)    Welsh Government Consultation - Developments of National Significance -

The Committee received a report to update Members on the Welsh Government (WG) consultation on Development of National Significance and to recommend an appropriate response to those consultations.

As part of the implementation of the proposed changes to the Planning System in Wales, which will be introduced through The Planning (Wales) Bill, a number of consultation papers had been released seeking the views of interested parties with regard to the above.

The WG commissioned research which highlighted concerns about local planning authorities’ (“LPAs”) ability to make timely decisions on some of the most challenging applications, including those that raise complex technical issues and are of a contentious nature. Some of these applications already fall to the Welsh Ministers to decide, either as a result of being called in, or on appeal following refusal by the LPA. WG considered this to be an inefficient approach. Accordingly the following consultation had been issued with the aim of ensuring that in future these applications are submitted directly to, and determined by, the Welsh Ministers. To address this WG proposes a new category of development called Developments of National Significance (“DNS”). These are developments which are few in number but of greatest significance to Wales because of their potential benefits and impacts.

The thresholds and types of development proposed to be included in the DNS category were detailed within Appendix A attached to the report.

The consultation paper, attached to the report at Appendix A included a set of specific questions to which the Welsh Government was requesting views. The closing date for replies was 12 August 2015.

The proposed responses to the consultation papers point out concerns about the democratic deficit this process would create. The issue of how the LPA will fund its involvement in the DNS process when the planning fee will be given to the WG was also a major concern.

The issues raised were addressed individually in the consultation response attached at Appendix B.

Following presentation of the report, Members also expressed concern in relation to the above mentioned issues, these being, the role of the Local Member and Planning Committee in the proposed process and how work carried out by the LPA would be funded. Concerns were also raised in relation to the short timescales set out within the proposals. The Operational Manager advised that these concerns had been addressed within the response to the consultation.

Following consideration of the report, the Committee


(1)    T H A T the contents of the report be noted and the response to the consultation be agreed and sent to Welsh Government.

(2)    T H A T the matter be referred to Cabinet for information and that should Cabinet have any additional issues it wished to raise that these be forwarded on to Welsh Government.

Reasons for decisions

(1)    To allow the Council to respond to the consultation.

(2)    To inform Cabinet of the views of the Committee when responding to the consultation and to allow any further comments of Cabinet to be forwarded to the Welsh Government.”

Attached as Appendix – Report to Planning Committee: 30th July, 2015