The Minister was speaking at the Royal Town Planning Institute Cymru annual conference and updated the audience on ongoing improvements to the planning system, aimed at making it easier to navigate.
The latest addition to the improvements is a new practice guide designed to encourage people submitting planning applications to talk through their plans with their local authorities before actually submitting them.
The Minister said:
“The Welsh Government is committed to improving the planning process and to making it as user friendly and speedy as possible.”
“This guidance, which I am launching today, encourages local planning authorities and applicants to sit down together and discuss their proposals in detail before any planning application is formally submitted.
“It is designed to support both parties through this process and to help ensure that the right questions are asked and answered. The idea is that this will help to improve the quality of planning applications, reduce the time it takes to deal with them and help users avoid the cost and time implications of having to submit a series of applications. It will also benefit consultees, including nearby communities, as it should reduce the number of amendments to submitted applications.”
Last month the Welsh Government issued a package of planning changes. This included a new Development Management Procedure Order for Wales which consolidated procedures for dealing with planning applications.
The Minister is also keen to extend permitted development rights and has introduced regulations that extend the types of micro generation equipment that can be installed in homes in order to increase renewable energy production by householders. These will come into force on 18th June.
During his speech the Minister updated the conference on progress towards introducing a Planning Bill. He reported that last autumn he established an Independent Advisory Group to report on future options for the delivery of the Planning Bill and that the Group would feed back its findings next month.
The Minister also explained that to supplement this work the Welsh Government has commissioned a number of studies on different aspects of the planning system and that these would report back by the summer.
Following this the Welsh Government will hold a series of stakeholder consultation events to inform its Planning White Paper. This is on course to be published in 2013.
Work to introduce a Planning Bill is a Programme for Government commitment aimed at creating sustainable places for people.