Western Mail

Planning rules making village a ‘no-go area’

- GARETH WILLIAMS Reporter newsdesk@walesonlin­e.co.uk

PLANNING guidelines are to blame for a village “slowly becoming a no-go area for local people to buy property”, a councillor has warned.

Gruff Williams claims existing Gwynedd council planning policies - based on the Joint Local Developmen­t Plan adopted in 2017- are actively working against efforts to provide homes for local people.

He believes the guidelines are encouragin­g more outsiders to build and adapt homes in rural Llyn Peninsula while ramping up house prices and “strangling” the Welsh language.

“We could easily have another Abersoch on our hands if we’re not careful”, he said.

He made the claims ahead of a decision on the planned adaptation and extension of a home on Mynydd Nefyn, which was sold last year for £330,000.

The owners of Tan y Mynydd stress it will be used as a family rather than a holiday home, but the plans have sparked unanimous opposition from Nefyn Town Council amid fears it would open the floodgates for similar developmen­ts, despite its location on the cusp of the Llyn Area of Outstandin­g Natural Beauty (AONB).

Planning officers are recommendi­ng committee members approve the plans, which include removing the render and expanding the three bedroom house’s footprint by demolishin­g an outbuildin­g and conservato­ry, replacing them with a new extension.

According to the planners’ report it would “integrate acceptably scape”.

Gwynedd Council says securing affordable housing that offers locals the opportunit­y to own their own homes is one of the council’s top priorities, with planning applicatio­ns decided on their own individual merits.

But Cllr Williams, who has been critical of delegated planning powers in the past, referred to a recent case involving a couple’s planning struggles to build a home in Llanengan near Abersoch.

Having been priced out of the local housing market – where Rightmove lists the average home as being worth £447,589 – Nia Ferris and her partner, as well as his sister and her partner, were granted permission to build two houses on land donated by family in the village.

Despite being recommende­d for refusal, including that into the landthey would be too big to be considered as affordable housing, committee members decided to approve the plans after describing existing policies as “not fit for purpose” in areas where house prices are extremely high.

But conditions attached to the approval mean that Ms Ferris, who was recently appointed the headteache­r of a local primary school, is not permitted to live in one of the homes as her income is above the £45,000 a year threshold for an affordable home.

Cllr Williams, a member of the planning committee who opposed adoption of the JLDP, fears there could be more “Abersoch-type communitie­s” on Llyn unless action is taken.

“When local people want to build an affordable home there seems to be various obstacles thrown in their way, with limitation­s including a 94-square metre limit for a three bedroom house, which Gwynedd council strictly adheres to,” he said.

A spokespers­on for Gwynedd council said: “Planning applicatio­ns are determined in accordance with the statutory requiremen­ts with decisions also made in accordance with the council’s scheme of delegation.

“Securing affordable housing that offers local residents the opportunit­y to own their own homes is one of the council’s top priorities and we have implemente­d an affordable housing policy for a number of years.

“The planning criteria include proving the need for an affordable house, that the size of the house is affordable and that there is a mechanism such as a 106 agreement to control the future occupancy and price of the house.”

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