'We welcome and share the aim of the Welsh assembly government which is to improve the quality, consistency, clarity and speed of planning in Wales. Whilst the planning system has too often been the butt of unfair criticism about some decisions on issues such as second homes, farming diversification and telecom masts and the time it takes to make them, we do share the belief that we need to make it up to date and relevant and to improve confidence in the planning system.
The consultation paper includes a number of proposals, which support the institute's belief about what's best for Wales - given its distinctive regeneration, cultural and environmental needs - without losing the qualities of the system as it stands.
Looking at individual key issues, he went on to say:
'I welcome the proposal to keep the fundamentals of development planning in place whilst at the same time making the plans less detailed and more focused.
'The proposed system of Local Development Plans and Action Plans appears to be sensible for Wales given its 25 local planning authorities although the links to the emerging Wales Spatial Plan and regional levels of planning are not clear at present. We look forward to working with the Welsh assembly government on these aspects as well as ideas for ensuring that plans are in synergy with community strategies and properly engage the community.
'The proposals for a standard planning application form and information checklist for all of Wales makes sense as well as quality contracts with developers for dealing with major applications. However we would like to have seen the paper being bolder on introducing smarter targets for handling different types of planning applications.
'We are also delighted to see that the minister agrees with us on the need to see that the service is properly resourced, including the need to attract and retain skilled planning professionals. The system is definitely creaking in places at the moment. As an institute we look forward to making sure that extra money is put into the system and also to working with the assembly, ELWa and the WLGA to ensure we deliver skilled professionals and decision-makers.'
On the negative side, Mr Sant said that:
'Although we are happy with the long due official recognition for the work of the Planning Aid Service we would have liked to see a commitment to providing financial as well as logistical support for the service in Wales and will be pressing for this and a properly resourced local planning advisory service.
'We look forward to the publication to the subsequent papers on planning gain and compulsory purchase order and, following consultation with our members, to making a full and considered response in due course.'