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Planning Bill a ‘missed opportunity’ says Plaid Cymru

 Llyr Huws Gruffydd

Labour choose to tinker with out-dated system

The Party of Wales’ Shadow Minister for Planning, Llyr Gruffydd has expressed his disappointment that the Welsh Government has missed a golden opportunity to deliver a modern planning system that is fit to meet the needs of the people of Wales in the 21st century.

He said that the planning system is in need of root and branch reform but expressed his disappointment that the Welsh Government has decided to merely tinker with existing out-dated legislation in its White Paper on Planning, laid today.

Mr Gruffydd described the current planning system in Wales as being too focussed on blocking and restricting development. He wants to see a shift in culture to a more positive and facilitative planning system which would encourage development based on good design and the promotion of good energy and environmental standards. He said that the Planning Bill was also an opportunity to address the shortage of affordable housing, to encourage more small-scale renewable energy projects, and to support small businesses.

The Party of Wales’ Shadow Minister for Planning, Llyr Gruffydd AM said:

“Plaid Cymru is clear that the planning system needs to work better. We need a system that can facilitate progress and bring about the type of developments we need. At the moment, the process is too slow and too bureaucratic.

“Tweaking the existing system will simply not cut it. We need root and branch reform. The current system is based on the post-war Town and Country Planning Act from 1947 and is desperately out-dated. We need a modern system that meets the needs of modern society.

“With a little ambition the government could use this Bill to strengthen the provision of affordable housing where it is needed, it could bring in a presumption in favour of small-scale community renewable energy projects and could support town centres and small businesses by presuming in favour of town centre retail developments and ensuring that all large-scale out-of-town retail developments are subject to a Retail Impact Assessment

“The Minister’s recognition that lessons have been learnt from the Local Development Plan process highlights the need to allow early amendment of recently adopted LDPs, otherwise those flaws will effectively be locked in for years to come.

“Maintaining a single Planning Inspectorate presiding over significantly divergent planning systems in Wales and England will become increasingly unsustainable. This further strengthens Plaid Cymru’s call for an independent Planning Inspectorate for Wales.

“This Bill will need to be strengthened significantly if it is to make a positive impact and I will be working hard to make sure that that happens.”

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