What is the Welsh Planning System?

This section will highlight key primary legislation that governs the planning system from bestowing decision-making powers to Local Authorities to how high a domestic fence can be erected.

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Town and Country Planning Act 1990

This is the underpinning Act that governs the principles of the planning system in England and Wales. This instrument defines the meaning of “development”. This is useful to ascertain if works to a property are development and whether the GPDO will need to be considered before the works commence.

Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990

Buildings and built environments of special character or historical significance are often protected through listed or conservation area status. The above Act provides the legislative definitions, procedures and powers that regulate these important structures and areas.

Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004

This Act introduced the Local Development Plan system in Wales, a statutory duty requiring the Welsh Ministers to prepare the Wales Spatial Plan and local planning authorities to have regard to the Wales Spatial Plan when preparing a Local Development Plan and made other reforms to development management provisions in the Town and Country Planning Act

Planning Act 2008

This instrument introduced further reforms to development management.

Planning (Wales) Act 2015

The Act amended the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 to introduce several reforms to strengthen development planning, including the introduction of the National Development Framework in place of the Wales Spatial Plan and provisions for the establishment of Strategic Planning Panels to prepare Strategic Development Plans. It made other improvements to the development management and enforcement systems and provided for nationally significant development applications to be made to the Welsh Ministers instead of to local planning authorities as Developments of National Significance.

Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (GPDO)

The GPDO grants permitted development rights (PDR) to a wide variety of developments from householders to mineral exploration. This means that if the proposed development complies with the criterion set out in the Order the developer is not required to seek planning permission. However, it is advised that an application or lawful development certificate is still approved or granted to ensure any new development is lawful to prevent potential enforcement action. It is important to note that residential flats do not benefit from the GPDO and do not, therefore, have PDR. The Welsh government released a householder guide to PDR with illustrations and clear development criterion. Please see the following link:

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