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Welsh Government to set up own Planning Inspectorate over policy divergences

Wales is set to get its own Planning Inspectorate after the Welsh Government concluded policy there now differed too far from England for a joint one to be any longer viable.

The Welsh Government said planning law and policy had “diverged and continues to diverge at an accelerating rate from planning law and policy in England” and a separate Welsh planning code was also expected to be drafted.

Julie James, Minister for Housing and Local Government, said she had instructed officials to begin work on a separate, dedicated planning inspector service for Wales, but was “mindful of the need to ensure applications for infrastructure schemes, planning appeals and the examination of local development plans are not interrupted or delayed”.

The new inspectorate is expected to be fully operational by the end of the current Welsh Assembly term in 2021.

Previous minister Lesley Griffiths had last autumn said there was a case to consider a separate inspectorate as the existing one “operates within two legislative regimes, with differing priorities and planning objectives” and asked the Law Commission for England and Wales to review the situation. The law reform body has made 192 recommendations.