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Revamp for Welsh planning law mooted

Published: Thursday, 7th July 2016

Law Commission launches consultation on Welsh planning law in a bid to create clearer, simpler and more modern law…

The Law Commission has launched a consultation on Welsh planning law which the organisation criticised as “overly complicated and difficult for professionals and the public”.

The organisation pointed out that existing planning law in both England and Wales was last consolidated in the Town and Country Planning Act in 1990 and had developed piecemeal since.

In the case of Wales, devolution and the increasing divergence between Welsh and English law had created “an even more fragmented and complicated picture” said the Commission.

The consultation has suggested there is a case for creating a new code for planning law in Wales that would:

  • Restate the existing law in a modern, consistent and well-ordered way
  • Modernise the language and remove ambiguities
  • Streamline and rationalise processes and procedures
  • Include rules and interpretations developed from case law.

The advisory body noted how there were around 48 pieces of primary legislation regulating development and the use of land in Wales.

Nicholas Paines QC, Law Commissioner for public law said: “Wales should have a legal framework that supports its planning needs and works effectively for developers, planning authorities and communities. But planning law in Wales has become fragmented and almost impossible to navigate.

“We have an exciting opportunity now to identify the scope of what needs to be done to create clearer, simpler and more modern law, and to take the first constructive steps towards a fully comprehensive codification of the legal framework that regulates development and land use in Wales.”

Alongside this move the Commission has published a report recommending that significant areas of the law in Wales such as education, housing, health and planning should be consolidated and codified. And, to keep the law clear and easy to understand, amendments or future legislation should be made only by amending or adding to the code.

The report also looked at existing practices for drafting and interpreting bilingual legislation. It set out recommendations to help the Welsh government and the judiciary develop and apply law made in the Welsh language.

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Roger Milne