Planning guidelines in Wales should be adjusted in light of the Covid-19 pandemic to help kick-start the construction industry and ensure developments are not jeopardised.
That is the message from one of Mid Wales’ leading architectural design and planning consultancies following changes to planning regulations in England.
Doug Hughes of Hughes Architects said the extension to the three-year planning permission period in England should also be introduced by the Welsh Government.
He said otherwise, large and small-scale housing and commercial developments could be jeopardised in Wales, as well as impacting on private homeowners who might have put off building a new home or property extension.
Extension to three year expiry needed
The changes announced last month by the UK government mean a site with planning permission in England that has not been built on and has its three-year planning permission expiring since the Covid-19 lockdown in March will have its time limit extended to 1 April 2021.
“There are many sites in Wales where work or pre-commencement works might have been due to start this year, but with the pandemic it has been delayed. This could be due to health and safety, financial or other issues,” said Mr Hughes, Principal Architect and Managing Director of Hughes Architects which has offices in Newtown and Welshpool, Powys, along with Aberystwyth in Ceredigion.
“If planning permission is due to expire between now and the end of the year it would mean developers and private individuals having to re-apply. This could jeopardise some projects that might have already gone through complex planning procedures.
“It will also affect private individuals who have decided to put off building their home or extension because they don’t want to spend money at this time. They might be putting off such an investment until they know their employment is secure or simply as a financial safeguard.”
Mr Hughes said an extension to April 2021 would allow developers and individuals time to re-evaluate their project and delay work without losing planning permission.
The UK government said by the end of June alone more than 400 residential permissions would have expired jeopardising more than 24,000 new homes.
Planning system affected by Covid-19
The planning system in Wales has been affected by Covid-19 with many local authority planning departments reassigning staff to other essential roles.
This has meant delays in planning approvals in some cases.
“Planning teams are under a lot of pressure. We fully understand that as architects and planning consultants. However, some of this could be relieved with additional changes, even if temporary, to planning laws,” added Mr Hughes.