Planning Law in Wales

Current project status

  • Initiation: Could include discussing scope and terms of reference with lead Government Department
  • Pre-consultation: Could include approaching interest groups and specialists, producing scoping and issues papers, finalising terms of project
  • Consultation: Likely to include consultation events and paper, making provisional proposals for comment
  • Policy development: Will include analysis of consultation responses. Could include further issues papers and consultation on draft Bill
  • Reported: Usually recommendations for law reform but can be advice to government, scoping report or other recommendations

We are recommending that a new Planning Code is created for Wales, which is comprehensive but simpler. We have analysed the responses to our Consultation Paper, and produced a Final Report, submitted to the Welsh Government and laid in the UK Parliament and in the National Assembly on 03 December 2018. The Welsh government provided a full response in November 2020.

Cyfraith Cynllunio yng Nghymru

Download the final report

Download individual chapters of the final report

Download a summary of the final report

The problem

Planning law in Wales is unnecessarily complicated and, in places, difficult to understand.

The legislation has not been consolidated since the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, and that has been supplemented by a succession of piecemeal changes ever since – notably the Planning and Compensation Act 2004 and the Planning (Wales) Act 2015.

Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify what the planning law of Wales actually is.  New legislation made in the Assembly and in Parliament may apply to Wales only, to England only, or to both England and Wales. This creates an ever more complex system.

There are also a number of places where the law could be made clearer, or where redundant provisions could be done away with.

The project

As part of our 12th programme of law reform the Law Commission was asked by the Welsh Government to examine the operation of the development management system.  This also followed our earlier report on The Form and Accessibility of the Law Applicable in Wales.

We concluded that there wasn’t a need for further major policy changes in this area, but that there was clearly a need for planning law in Wales to be simplified and modernised.  We produced a Scoping Paper in June 2016, setting out our preliminary proposals on a possible consolidation and reform exercise.

The Commission then considered possible improvements to the legislation, to reflect how the system works in practice. We produced in November 2017 a full Consultation Paper, setting out our conclusions as to the scope of the project and outlining over 180 proposals for technical reforms.  We circulated this widely, and embarked on a major consultation exercise.  As a result, we received over 160 responses.

The final report

We have reconsidered our proposals, in the light of those responses, and we have now published a Final Report, containing 193 recommendations. This was published in November 2018.  It will form part of the evidence base for the Welsh Government to consider in simplifying and consolidating planning legislation in Wales – which we hope will result in a Bill being laid before the Assembly during this Assembly term.

To request a paper copy of the Final Report, or if you have any other queries, please send an email to:

The Welsh Government has provided its full response to our Report which can be viewed below. 


Documents and downloads

Project details

Area of law

Public law


Nicholas Paines KC