Planning services in Wales are struggling to manage a complex system in the face of insufficient capacity and reducing resources according to a new report by the Auditor General for Wales.
Wales Audit Office writes:
The report shows that all planning services have seen budget cuts of 50% in the last ten years, considering inflation. With less money to fund services, planning officer capacity is stretched and skills are decreasing in key areas. Furthermore, the number of trainees entering planning has fallen in recent years, raising concerns over the long-term sustainability of services.
The report also brings together public views from a Wales-wide survey, where a growing disconnect was found between what people want from their planning authority and what their planning authority is able to deliver. 67% of citizens surveyed stated that local planning authorities are not effectively engaging with them about their planning proposals, and many feel that planners are focused more on individual applications rather than supporting the creation of a better and more sustainable society.
The decisions taken by local planning authorities impact on us all – they can support the development of new homes, promote conservation, create job opportunities and improve local infrastructure. But while planners focus on individual applications, the concern of Welsh citizens is that not enough is being done to create vibrant and sustainable communities.
The Auditor General for Wales, Adrian Crompton said: ‘Good planning is essential for more vibrant and sustainable communities, but clear vision is needed in order for Wales to thrive. I am concerned that most local planning authorities have not clearly defined how planning services contribute to the wellbeing of people and communities. My recommendations are designed to help improve capacity and resilience, work towards better engagement with the public, and set a clear, ambitious vision that shows how planning can help to improve wellbeing.’