Welsh Liberal Democrats have opposed the Welsh Labour Government’s attempts to degrade the voice of applicants in the planning appeals process.
Using the ‘Town and Country Planning (Determination of Procedure) (Wales) Order 2014’ the Welsh Labour Government wishes to change the way in which planning appeals are dealt with. The measure, if implemented, would mean that Ministers decide the level of appeal each case receives and thereby remove the ability of principal parties to select the appeal method they feel the case requires.
When the Planning Bill was launched last week it was widely criticised for centralising planning decisions with the Minister and diminishing the voice of local communities.
Given this it is particularly disappointing that only a week later the Welsh Labour Government have chosen to bring forward supplementary legislation to do the same thing in another area.
Our planning system is far from perfect, however, as we reform the system we need to ensure that the voices of local communities are not lost in the process.
These proposed regulations in their current form are opaque and undemocratic.
Decisions on whether proposed developments merit a public hearing should not be left down to the Planning Minister, without any need to justify their decision.
These decisions must be made in an open and transparent way, with a clear set of criteria that can be used to determine any disputes.
Welsh Liberal Democrats would welcome a proper debate on this issue within the Planning Bill; these regulations must not be bulldozed through the Assembly with little discussion.