A Wales Audit Office report on planning authorities across Wales (pdf here) has revealed concerns from the public that not enough was being done to provide good quality information and were overly focused on single planning applications instead of working to create sustainable communities.
Although the attributed data is limited, Wrexham topped the number of planning decisions taken in committee, with 282 in 2017-18 , with the lowest being 13 in the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.
The report found:
“Based on the findings of this audit, the Auditor General has concluded that Planning Authorities are not resilient enough to deliver long-term improvements because of their limited capacity and the challenge of managing a complex system.”
– Wales Audit Office
70% of people who responded to a survey said planning authorities didn’t do enough to highlight the potential impact of new developments, with the report also highlighting reduced budgets and reduced numbers of planning trainees as having a negative impact on the service.
The Wales Audit Office has recommended, amongst other things, changing the timing and location of planning meetings to encourage greater public engagement; setting planning fees to properly reflect the cost of providing planning services and also providing clear reporting to reduce the number of planning officer recommendations that are overturned.
If and how Wrexham will change processes at a local level after the findings remains to be seen.
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