This advice note sets out the requirements from the 1st August for ‘major’ development applications (full and outline) and applications for Developments of National Significance (DNS) to undertake pre-application consultation for a minimum of 28 days prior to the submission of planning applications. This change does not apply to applications for reserved matters, variation/removal of condition applications, non-material amendments or minor material amendment applications.
There are six important components to the compulsory pre-application public consultation exercise, these are outlined below:
Draft Planning Application
Developers will be required to make a draft version of the planning application publically available for a minimum 28 day consultation period.
This will therefore include the Design and Access Statement, all scaled plans/ drawings and information / surveys and technical documents that would be required to validate the planning application.
The use of web based information is encouraged where the technology is available; although provision for those without internet access must be made, which may include referring them to community facilities where communal internet access is available. Providing a hard copy in a public building such as a library or community centre may also be appropriate and is a requirement if a web based system is not made available.
This requirement will therefore have a significant impact on project programmes and require design and technical teams to prepare information well in advance of the intended submission date.
In order to publicise the draft proposals, developers are required to display a site notice (in English and Welsh) in at least one place on or near the land to which the proposed application relates for a period of no less than 28 days before submitting an application for the proposed development. A longer time period may be considered appropriate in certain circumstances and more than one notice maybe required on larger sites.
Adjacent Owners or Occupiers
While it has long been a requirement for Councils to inform neighbours of a development site that a planning application has been submitted, the changes require developments to undertake a 28 day consultation with ‘any owner or occupier of any land adjoining the land to which the proposed application relates’ before submitting the planning application. A letter is required setting out where all draft planning application information is available to be viewed, such as library or other public building.
Community & Specialist Consultees
Developers are also required to consult with ‘community consultees’ (including town and community councils, local councillors for the elected ward in which the proposal sits) and ‘specialist consultees’ such as Natural Resources Wales for the statutory 28 days. The extent of ‘specialist consultees’ that must be consulted is set out in the revised Development Management Procedure Order 2016 and relates to the type and scale of development proposed.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Screening
Developers are advised to secure a screening opinion early on, before they undertake any statutory pre-application publicity and consultation. A screening opinion for developments likely to have significant impacts on the environment is subject to a 3 week response period.
If a development proposal does comprise EIA development then the developer should make available draft reports and information that would be used to form an Environmental Statement as part of the statutory pre-application process. This will assist the statutory consultees and may lead to quicker decision making on any subsequent application.
Pre-application Consultation Report (PAC)
As of 01 August 2016 a PAC must be submitted with all (qualifying) planning applications that are made on or after this date. The absence of such a report will mean that the planning application will not be validated.
The pre-application consultation report must contain the site notice and notice provided to all adjoining owners/occupiers, community and specialist councils and a declaration that the 28 day period has been met.
The main part of the report is expected to be a summary of all issues raised in response to the consultation and a copy of the responses from the specialist consultees. The developer must confirm how the issued raised have been addressed. All comments received within the specified timescales need to be considered by the developer. There is no requirement for developers to consider representations that are received after the end of the period specified in the relevant notice.
Depending on the number of responses received, the programming of the submission of planning applications will need to be carefully considered to allow those compiling the PAC and the design team to respond to any issues raised.
The introduction of new defined pre-application consultation requirements by Welsh Government seeks to provide further transparency to the planning process and to allow interested parties to highlight any major issues at an early stage with the aim of avoiding delays to the determination process.
We would urge all clients and developers to carefully consider the impact of these changes on their future programmes and ensure there is sufficient time to respond to the consultation responses.
Consultation requirements in England are such that Stride Treglown have experience of undertaking public consultation exercises, preparing tools to collate responses and writing supporting Statements of Community Involvement.
Should you have any questions relating to this information please contact either Coral Ducroq (email@example.com) or Jonathan Pritchard (firstname.lastname@example.org)
 Major’ development is defined as development involving any one or more of the following: winning or working of minerals, or use of the land for mineral working deposits; waste development; the provision of more than 10 dwelling houses or the site is 0.5ha or larger; the provision of building or buildings where the floor space to be created by the development is 1000sq m or more; or, development carried out on site having an area of 1ha or more.