A negative culture within local planning authorities has been cited as the main barrier to development in rural Wales.
A poll undertaken by CLA Wales at the Royal Welsh Show has revealed that the majority of people interviewed believe Wales’ rural planning system is a major barrier to business.
People living with the National Park were most critical, describing the system as obstructive, inconsistent, unsupportive, unprofessional and often very unhelpful.
CLA Wales is now stepping up its campaign for changes to the planning system. “Overwhelmingly, it was agreed that the current system could be made fit for purpose if the existing legislation already in place was developed and applied more effectively,” says Sue Evans, CLA Wales policy director.
Case studies included in the CLA Wales’ Performance of the Planning System in rural Wales report identified problems within the application of the planning system, not the system itself.
“All agreed the biggest obstruction to having a good planning system in Wales was the negative culture in local planning authorities.”
Sue Evans, CLA Wales
“All agreed the biggest obstruction to having a good planning system in Wales was the negative culture in local planning authorities,” said Ms Evans. “This culture extends all the way to the top where we see the Welsh government interpreting EU rules in an overly cautious manner resulting in it being too restrictive and burdensome.”
CLA Wales’ key recommendation is the introduction of a new independent inspectorate to scrutinise and audit planning authorities, officers and committee members.
“It would operate similarly to the school inspectorate where they would visit every local planning authority in the first year and report on problems and work to find solutions,” Ms Evans explained. “Penalties could be issued for poor performance and good practice and performance rewarded. It would be a scrutiny system with real teeth.”
A reduction in the number of planning authorities in Wales is also being called for to improve service quality and cut costs.
See our page on the Royal Welsh Show