Infrastructure projects in Wales could flourish with greater planning clarity, RTPI says

A clearer and streamlined consenting process is needed to ensure Wales is a competitive place for investment, according to RTPI Cymru.

The planning body says failure to provide adequate compulsory acquisition powers will make Wales a less attractive place to invest in large scale infrastructure projects in its response to a Welsh Government consultation, following devolution of powers from Westminster for large-scale infrastructure.

To streamline the process, the institute recommends Welsh Government work with Natural Resources Wales, councils and other bodies to grant the range of consents, licences and other approvals in one single application. 

Large-scale projects with interrelated elements should be approved in one single consent – known as a Welsh Infrastructure Consent, the organisation says with both money and time saved if developers do not need to request approvals from numerous bodies.

Commenting on the consultation response, Roisin Willmott, director of RTPI Cymru said: “We want the planning system to provide the greatest level of certainty and simplicity for developers while extracting the greatest public benefit. Our recommendations will help the planning system contribute to making Wales an attractive place for infrastructure investment.”

The institute also wants clear criteria to be published to demonstrate how the minister will determine which approval process a project goes through to provide the certainty these changes are designed to create,  developers to understand which application process might apply to their project.

RTPI Cymru has also called for a stronger link between policy and decision-making, particularly in relation to the National Development Framework (NDF). It says the status of the NDF should be strengthened to ensure infrastructure investment is consistent with the objectives of the Framework.

In responding to the consultation, RTPI Cymru drew on Welsh members’ expertise on how infrastructure development in Wales is approved following new powers given to the Welsh Government in 2017.

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