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Planning (Wales) Act 2015

Section 6– Preparing and revising Strategic Development Plans

32.This section inserts section 60I into the PCPA 2004.

33.Section 60I requires a strategic planning panel to prepare and adopt a strategic development plan. A strategic development plan sets out objectives in relation to the use and development of land and general policies for the implementation of those objectives. The strategic development plan must be in general conformity with the National Development Framework.

34.Regarding the expression “general conformity” which is used in this section, the Court of Appeal considered the meaning of the general conformity requirement between structure and local plans in the case Persimmon Homes (Thames Valley) Limited v Stevenage Borough Council [2005] EWCA Civ 1365. Lord Justice Laws held that, in view of the long lead-times over which plans are implemented, a flexible approach should be taken to the phrase “general conformity” to accommodate the various and changing contingencies that could arise. Whether there was general conformity between plans was a matter of planning judgment for the planning authorities (in that case the local planning authority). It is expected that this approach would also apply to conformity between strategic development plans and the National Development Framework.

35.The strategic planning panel are to have regard to certain matters when preparing a strategic development plan. Strategic development plans are to be subject to a sustainability appraisal which must include an assessment of the likely effects of the plan on the use of the Welsh language. The Welsh Ministers may make regulations about the form and content of strategic development plans and the plan period. The strategic development plan has effect as a development plan for the period specified in the plan.

36.Section 60J sets out how relevant sections in Part 6 of the PCPA 2004, which provide for how a local development plan is produced, apply to strategic development plans. Most of those sections apply in the same way that they apply to local development plans, with the result that the overall process for preparing, adopting and revising a strategic development plan is the same. The local development plan preparation process set out in Part 6 of the PCPA 2004 and regulations, involves review and development of an evidence base; preparation and submission of a delivery agreement; preparation of the pre-deposit plan; placing the plan on deposit; submission of the plan for independent examination (to the Planning Inspectorate appointed by the Welsh Ministers); receipt of the Inspector’s report identifying required changes to the deposit plan; and adoption and publication of the plan. A local development plan is also subject to monitoring and review procedures.

37.The Welsh Ministers have power by virtue of section 60J to intervene through a direction or by calling the plan in for their approval.

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