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Section highlightThe People’s NHS Part of an initiative to engage the public in creating a safe and sustainable health service for the future.
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The Strategy for Older People in Wales 2013-2023 »The 3rd phase focuses on ensuring that older people in Wales have the resources to deal with the challenges and opportunities they face.Learn more »
- A new vision for a National Youth Work Strategy
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Section highlightReview of the Planning Enforcement System
The research covers 18 recommendations for the future Welsh enforcement system.
Legislative programme 2012 - 2013 »
Addressing the Assembly in the Senedd today, the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, detailed the eight bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the second year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
Section highlightCommunity Infrastructure Levy
Local authorities can charge a Community Infrastructure Levy on new developments to support the infrastructure needed.
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Written - Planning Bill Update
This statement is to inform the National Assembly for Wales on progress of the Planning Bill, which has now passed to the House of Lords for consideration. It also updates my previous statement of 14th December 2007. Consideration of the Bill by the House of Commons was completed on 25th June 2008. The Bill commenced its passage through the House of Lords on 26th June and had its second reading in the Lords on 15th July. I have provided an opportunity for full briefing for Welsh members of both Houses on the aspects of the Bill that are relevant to Wales at the appropriate stages of its passage.
Infrastructure Planning Commission/Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects
The main focus of the Bill is the UK Government's desire to streamline the consent regime for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs), which is currently contained in various pieces of legislation. Instead of UK Government Ministers determining such applications, they will be submitted to, and determined by, the proposed independent Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), subject to the Bill securing Royal Assent later this year. The new system covers certain types of energy, transport, water, waste water and waste projects above specified thresholds set out in the Bill; it will include power stations, overhead electric lines, pipelines and underground storage of gas. The regime will have limited impact in Wales as most consent regimes that are within the IPC thresholds are devolved. However, the IPC will have the power to consider consents in Wales in non-devolved areas, including:
- The construction or extension of a generating station of over 50 mega watts onshore or over 100 mega watts offshore;
- The construction of electricity lines above ground, unless not over 20 kilovolts and a single consumer;
- The underground storage of gas in natural porous strata;The construction of pipelines; and
- The construction or alteration of a harbour with an increase in facilities above certain thresholds.
Thresholds may subsequently be varied, but only within the limit of current non-devolved powers.
A key policy objective of the IPC is to provide a single consent, known as a development consent, to replace all the consents that a project needs to go ahead (ancillary consents), which are currently obtained under different statutory regimes from numerous regulators. For projects in Wales some of these ancillary consents are devolved. I have secured provisions in the Bill which will enable consents currently determined within Wales, whether by the Welsh Ministers, Welsh Local Authorities or other relevant Welsh bodies, to continue to be determined in Wales. This will provide the assurance that, as regards the remit of the IPC, the provisions in the Bill will be devolution neutral. Work is currently in hand by Assembly Government officials to map out those devolved consents that will be excluded from the remit of the IPC for projects in Wales. These will be included in a subsequent Statutory Instrument to be made by the UK Government.
In terms of how the IPC will operate for relevant projects in Wales, the Bill provides for the chair of the Commission to decide whether an application will be considered by a single Commissioner or a panel of Commission members. The Welsh Assembly Government has secured amendments to the Bill which ensure that, in either event, when applications relating to Wales are determined, wherever reasonably practicable, at least one member of the decision-making Panel or Council must be nominated by Welsh Ministers. My officials are liaising with the UK Government on the appointment of Commissioners.
To support the new consent regime, UK Government Departments will produce national policy statements (NPS) for each type of infrastructure. The IPC will be obliged to decide applications in accordance with the NPS unless limited exceptions apply. The Bill provides for the statements to be subject to public consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny. UK Ministers have assured me that there will also be appropriate consultation with the Welsh Assembly Government during their development. Officials from the Department of Business and Regulatory Reform are already in contact with Assembly Government officials to participate in project groups for the Energy NPS, which is likely to be the first to be produced. I should make it clear that the status to be accorded to NPS, which I have detailed above, will only be applicable to those non-devolved consents in Wales where the decision is taken by the IPC; the Bill does not alter the position for devolved consents and the relevant Welsh Assembly Government policies will continue to apply.
Town and Country Planning - Measure Powers
The land use planning system in Wales is a devolved responsibility and we have taken the opportunity through the Bill to secure further primary legislative competence (Measure powers) for the National Assembly for Wales. The powers relate to plans made by both the Welsh Ministers and by local planning authorities in relation to the development and use of land in Wales, and related activities. (Clause 195 of the Bill). This is a very significant milestone in the development of the land use plan system in Wales and would allow for the continued development of a distinctive land use plan system that more appropriately meets the needs of Wales and its communities. The powers will allow the Assembly to continue to update and adapt the land-use plan system in Wales, including local development plans and their relationship with the Wales Spatial Plan, in accordance with Welsh priorities and timescales. The views of key stakeholders on Measure Powers were sought last year and the Welsh Assembly Government will undertake further consultation in the future relating to any proposed changes to the forward planning system arising from this new power.
Town and Country Planning - Development Control System
The Bill contains a number of new provisions that are concerned with improving the development control system. The Welsh Assembly Government is seeking to secure through the Bill a number of provisions on an England and Wales basis. These largely technical provisions are intended to correct previous errors and oversights or seek to introduce improvements to the current development control system and were outlined in my December statement. Some are of such a minor or technical nature that consultation on policy merits is not required, while the remainder confer a power to reform current legislation (but do not in themselves change it). These will be subject to comprehensive consultation prior to decisions being taken on their implementation in Wales.
The Welsh Assembly Government has also secured provision in the Bill giving Welsh Ministers the ability to introduce a number of other miscellaneous reforms to the development control regime, which were originally included in the Bill on an England only basis. This "power to apply" provision gives Welsh Ministers a wholly discretionary ability to bring forward the reforms if they are considered desirable following consultation in Wales The reforms are, in summary:
- Amended power to correct minor errors in Planning Inspectors' appeal decision notices;
- Provision to facilitate determination of applications and appeals by statutory undertakers by Planning Inspectors;
- New provisions regarding the determination procedure for specified planning and listed building applications and appeals;
- Removal of rights to compensation where notice is given of the withdrawal of permitted development rights;
- New Local Planning Authority power to make non-material changes to an existing planning permission;
- Amended power to override easements and other rights to facilitate regeneration and similar projects. Provision is also made for the Welsh Ministers to make an equivalent reform to the Welsh Development Agency Act 1975, for which there is no England-only reform in the Bill as the Act only has effect in relation to Wales; and
- Amendments to the existing power for local planning authorities to decline to determine limited planning applications.
I intend preparing a comprehensive package of possible changes to development control arrangements incorporating the above miscellaneous amendments, as appropriate, and other evidence based improvements coming forward in Wales. It will also take account of any relevant recommendations emerging from the Killian-Pretty end to end review of the development control system commissioned by the UK Government, currently underway. That review is due to report later this year.
Community Infrastructure Levy
As outlined in my previous statement, the Planning Bill also makes provision for a new Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), aimed at ensuring that the costs incurred in providing infrastructure to support the development of an area can be met, either in part or whole, by landowners who have benefited from an increase in land value. The Bill provisions are in the nature of a general framework; the detail of the CIL's scope and operation will be determined by Regulations. As the levy is in the nature of a tax, responsibility for making the Regulations is not to be devolved to Welsh Ministers. The provisions will therefore be taken forward on an England and Wales basis by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
DCLG have been progressing work on the CIL, to resolve the policy and implementation issues associated with the proposals. My officials have provided input to the development of policy. A practitioners group comprising representatives of Local Planning Authorities and the development industry was also established by DCLG, which included Newport County Borough Council and Redrow Homes.
Introduction of the CIL will be discretionary for local planning authorities. It is the UK Government's intention to make secondary legislation so as to have the CIL in place from 1st April 2009 for those authorities who wish to introduce it. DCLG will publish a policy statement shortly outlining the policy and implementation issues, including how they intend to shape the CIL. This is not a formal consultation document but it will alert all stakeholders to the content of draft regulations likely to be issued for consultation later this year. I intend to circulate the statement to relevant stakeholders in Wales inviting comments on it to inform discussions with DCLG on the emerging Regulations.
The Welsh Assembly Government will continue to work with UK Government Departments during the progress of the Bill to ensure that the interests of Wales are reflected in the final legislation.
The Planning Bill provides an opportunity for the Welsh Assembly Government to take stock of the planning system in Wales. Outside of the changes being sought in the Bill, the Assembly Government is pursuing a wide variety of initiatives in Wales aimed at making the planning system more open, fair and accountable as well as being responsive to the needs of Wales and its people. I will be providing fuller details on the Assembly Government's vision for the future development of the planning system in due course.