The Minister has also announced changes to the way the funding will be allocated.
The new arrangements will see planning authorities applying for a share of £1.75m of funding to support work that the Assembly Government has identified as being key to improving the delivery of planning services.
A further £250k will be spent on work to improve the service across Wales, and particularly to develop the on-line planning portal.
Speaking about this funding, the Minister 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 £250K 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. “
From April 2011 planning authorities will be able to access funding for work which improves local service delivery and is focused on three key delivery themes. These are:
- Operational improvements, related to the preparation of local development plans, and improvements in the handling of planning applications.
- Improving local planning authorities’ capacity to enable better local delivery of the key policy priorities of the Assembly Government.
- Securing technical assistance, to enable local planning authorities to thoroughly assess renewable energy and waste treatment applications reflecting Assembly Government priorities.
The Minister 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.