The Department is required to review the Act’s implementation and to assess whether its objectives have been achieved. The Review involved collaboration with a broad cross-section of stakeholders as well as a targeted call for evidence exercise, which included all councils, statutory planning consultees, community, business and environmental interests, political parties and members of the public.
Overall the review found that the vast majority of provisions within the Planning Act have been implemented and that the reformed two tier planning system envisaged by the Assembly when the Act was made has been established.
However, the review has also identified parts of the planning system which could be improved, including the time it is taking for councils to bring forward their local development plans and the speed at which major planning applications are processed.
Having considered available evidence and taken account of stakeholders' comments, the review brings forward a series of recommendations for changes to the Act, subordinate legislation and guidance that are aimed at improving the planning system. These include:
- reviewing the consultation requirements in plan-making;
- improving the quality of planning applications submitted;
- increasing the use of digital technology in the planning system;
- reviewing the statutory consultations process, including timeframes for consultations responses, penalties for late responses and how councils can proceed if statutory consultees do not respond within the required timeframes;
- reviewing categories of development and the Department's approach to call in notifications; and
- reviewing aspects of the appeals system around new material, and the variation of proposals at appeal.
A summary list of the actions / recommendations is provided in the report which is available via the link below.