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Control over development

The general position is that planning permission is required for any development of land. Development is defined as “the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land”. There are exemptions in the TCPA 1990 from development control and some development is permitted by development orders.

If permission is needed, it must be sought in the first instance from the relevant local planning authority (LPA).

The planning system in Wales is described as a 'plan-led' system. Where an application is made to an LPA for planning permission, the authority must have regard to the provisions of its development plan, so far as material to the application, and any other material considerations. Determinations must be made in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

In Wales, the relevant development plan is each LPA’s local development plan where one has been adopted. Where a local development plan has not been adopted by an LPA, (older) unitary development plans and local plans or structure plans have development plan status.

Material considerations can be many and various. The weight to be given to different material considerations is solely a matter for the decision maker. Material considerations include for example:

  • national and local planning policies;
  • economic benefits and planning benefits;
  • previous appeal decisions.

Developments of National Significance

Developments of National Significance (DNS) are developments which require planning permission and meet the specified criteria.

An application for planning permission for DNS differs from a normal planning application in the way that it is decided. Instead of the local planning authority making the decision, the Planning Inspectorate examines the application and makes a recommendation to the Welsh Ministers based on planning merits and national priorities. The Welsh Ministers then decide whether or not to grant permission.

The Developments of National Significance (Specified Criteria and Prescribed Secondary Consents) (Wales) Regulations 2016 specify the thresholds and criteria for the types of development which qualify as DNS.

Financial matters (fees)

Fees for planning applications and other matters are set by the Welsh Ministers and contained in regulations.

Other matters

TCPA 1990 makes provision for:

  • modification of TCPA 1990 in respect of minerals (the current regulations applicable in respect of minerals are the Town and Country Planning (Minerals) Regulations 1995);
  • the Welsh Ministers to determine the procedure by which appeals (including enforcement appeals) under TCPA 1990 are dealt with;
  • the Welsh Ministers to require that a local inquiry be held in connection with any of their functions under TCPA 1990;
  • rights of entry on land in certain circumstances and for certain specified purposes.
Published on
Last updated
09 June 2021