Caernarfon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Gareth Wyn Wil­liams

Coun­cils seek to make builders as­sess im­pact on Welsh for schemes of 5+ homes

BUILDERS who want to cre­ate de­vel­op­ments of five or more homes could be forced to as­sess the im­pact on the Welsh lan­guage be­fore plan­ning per­mis­sion is given.

At a meet­ing in Llangefni, mem­bers of Anglesey and Gwynedd’s Joint Plan­ning Pol­icy Com­mit­tee re­solved to seek Welsh Gov­ern­ment guid­ance if they can bol­ster the Joint Lo­cal De­vel­op­ment Plan.

The plan, which was sep­a­rately rat­i­fied by both au­thor­i­ties last year, pro­poses where up to 7,184 new homes should be build across Gwynedd and Anglesey in the pe­riod up to 2026.

But mem­bers of Gwynedd Coun­cil’s Scru­tiny Work­ing Group on Plan­ning and the Welsh Lan­guage, urged the joint com­mit­tee to adopt fur­ther mea­sures that would re­sult in any de­vel­op­ments of five or more homes in ru­ral ar­eas and 10 or more in more ur­ban ar­eas, hav­ing to hold a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion and in­clude a lan­guage im­pact as­sess­ment as part of the ap­pli­ca­tion.

As part of the al­ready adopted plan, pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions be­fore sub­mit­ting a plan­ning ap­plica- tion are only manda­tory in de­vel­op­ments of 10 or more homes and the ne­ces­sity of lan­guage im­pact as­sess­ments de­pend on the na­ture of the de­vel­op­ment.

Cllr Sei­mon Glyn, who chairs the work­ing group, said: “I un­der­stand that when the Joint Lo­cal De­vel­op­ment Plan was adopted, there were strong feel­ings on both sides of the ar­gu­ment.

“But there is real con­cern that if things con­tinue as they are, the per­cent­age of We lsh speak­ers in Gwynedd will end up hov­er­ing over the 50% mark, which is al­ready the sit­u­a­tion on Anglesey and could get worse. Plan­ning alone isn’t enough to stem the flow of course, but that’s what we’re dis­cussing now and I urge the com­mit­tee to take on board our rec­om­men­da­tions. It is pos­si­ble to change pol­icy, noth­ing has to be set in stone.”

But while plan­ning of­fi­cers for both au­thor­i­ties pointed out that there was pro­vi­sion in the adopted de­vel­op­ment plan for the Welsh lan­guage to be used as a rel­e­vant plan­ning con­sid­er­a­tion, most mem­bers felt that this did not go far enough.

Plan­ning of­fi­cer Nia Haf Davies told mem­bers: “There are statu­tory steps if you want to make changes to the adopted plan.

“This in­cludes an­nual mon­i­tor­ing of the plan as it is, fol­lowed by a statu­tory r re­view and fur­ther c con­sul­ta­tion.

“It must be demon­strated why a pol­icy is fail­ing be­fore it can be changed.”

But Cllr Owain Wil­liams re­sponded: “Con­sid­er­ing the sever­ity of the sit­u­a­tion, I don’t think we can wait.

“The econ­omy is key to the fu­ture of the Welsh lan­guage, there’s no doubt about that.

“But build­ing five homes in a vil­lage of, say 50 peo­ple, is a huge de­vel­op­ment that could po­ten­tially have a mas­sive im­pact on its char­ac­ter.”

Cllr John Pughe Roberts, added: “If the Welsh Gov­ern­ment wants to re­alise its tar­get of a mil­lion Welsh speak­ers by 2050, they have to be flex­i­ble with us.

“The least we can do is ask the Welsh Gov­ern­ment in this in­stance, we have noth­ing to lose.”

Mem­bers re­solved to seek fur­ther le­gal ad­vice on the au­thor­i­ties’ Sup­ple­men­tary Plan­ning Guid­ance be­fore go­ing out to pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, while also car­ry­ing out fur­ther talks with the Welsh Gov­ern­ment if their own adaptations can be adopted as part of the plan.

● Work­ing group chair Cllr Sei­mon Glyn

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