The Welsh Assembly Government has announced it will spend £2M to support improvements to the planning service.
The new arrangements will see planning authorities applying for a share of £1.75M from April 2011 to support work that the Assembly Government has identified as being key to improving the delivery of planning services.
This includes the preparation of local development plans and improvements to the handling of planning applications, as well as improving local planning authorities’ capacity to enable better local delivery of the key policy priorities of the Assembly Government.
The funding will also be used to secure technical assistance to enable local planning authorities to thoroughly assess renewable energy and waste treatment applications reflecting Assembly Government priorities.
A further £250,000 will be spent on the development of an online planning portal.
Environment Minister, Jane Davidson said: “I am delighted that despite a difficult budget settlement for 2011/12, we have still been able to secure this funding of £2M to support the planning service here in Wales.
“The planning system is crucial to helping us achieve a number of Assembly Government priorities such as supporting our economic recovery, ensuring the delivery of affordable housing and other community benefits and helping us to reduce Wales’ carbon emissions.
“I am keen to ensure that this money is used as effectively as possible. That is why as well as £1.75M being available to all local planning authorities in Wales, an additional £250,000 will be used to fund cross-Wales work, including continuing to support the on-line planning portal that is vital to helping us improve the planning application process for businesses and individuals across Wales.
“That is also the reason we are changing the allocation process and why going forward we will financially support work that makes a real difference to the level of delivery and supports local need.”
Davidson also confirmed that there would be no increase in planning application fees in Wales from 1 April 2011, but indicated that the Welsh Assembly Government was likely to consult later this year on how the current planning fee structure could be rationalised to better reflects improvements to the planning application process.