Thursday, 19 May 2011

Bodelwyddan - symptom of a bigger problem

A petition by Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire, residents has today been submitted to the European Parliament. They are opposing plans contained in Denbighshire Council to treble the size of their village under the draft Local Development Plan.

Among the details in the petition are the following general points, that are probably valid for many councils throughout Wales:

• The residents believe the plan is fundamentally flawed and unsustainable because it bases its housing need on a population projection that are over inflated by Welsh Government in Cardiff Forecasting. The future population increases on the basis of unsustainable increases in the past is unsound.
• The continuing over- development of our countryside when there is no local demand. This concerns the residents as it will exists to encourage in migration to fill the houses.
• Not taking seriously account of local people’s views regarding taking over the country side to build extremely large housing developments which will dilute the culture and further threaten the Welsh Language and the heritage of the countryside .
• The Council is guilty of adopting a disparaging attitude towards the voice of the village and riding roughshod over local opinion by failing to carry out proper and meaningful consultation with the residents of a small village on whom the impact of a very large developing would have a devastating effect and loss of its unique identity.

Plaid Cymru councillors in Wrecsam have argued for some years now that the Welsh Government's population projections are seriously flawed because they are based on the previous decade's rapid and unsustainable population growth in many parts of Wales. Here in Wrecsam, for example, there was a combination of factors that caused very high and unsustainable growth in terms of population and housing demand.

Plaid's new North Wales AM Llyr Huws Gruffydd and councillors from Wrecsam will be joining Bodelwyddan's residents at the council meeting in Rhuthun tomorrow when the LDP will be discussed. A wider campaign is needed to challenge these flawed population projections.


Jac o' the North said...

Is it really the council at fault? I can recall a council spokesman defending the Bodelwyddan plan by saying that "the Assembly" left them no alternative but to plan for this new housing.

If so, who or what in "the Assembly" is forcing these projections on our local authorities? Is it the mysterious Housing Directorate, which may not even be answerable to the Assembly?

Whatever, now that WAG has authority over housing it must use that power to ensure that future internal demand is the primary consideration in planning for private housing, social housing and private rented housing.

Plaid Whitegate said...

I think the article makes clear it's the Welsh Government's responsibility re the population projections. That puts a heavy onus on the councils to increase housing allocations and that's causing the problem at LDP level.

Jac o' the North said...

Agreed. But what then do we mean by 'Welsh Government'? Do we actually mean elected politicians or are we referring to civil servants? And if the latter, who exactly are these people and who do they answer to?

With the Welsh Government now having power over housing maybe it's time to demand a rethink of all the LDPs, for this is a national problem and we need new, national guidelines.

Projected demand from within the existing population should be the most important criterion applied in planning for private, social and private rented accommodation.

Plaid Queensway said...

Agreed Jac, I've asked planning officers on numerous occassions exactly which 'department' is responsible for these figures and never got a clear answer. I've recently put in an FOI to find out so will share that info as soon as it comes through.

I know that initially the formula used to calculate population projections was devised by a group of north Wales planning officers, it's only in the last few years they've been calculated in Cardiff. The formula has had no scrutiny at the Assembly as far as I'm aware.

As for todays result from Denbighshire council to support the LDP(20-20 but got through on the chairs casting vote), shocking performance from their planning officers. Completely biased and inaccurate on several occasions. The chief planning officer stated that the population projections from WAG were based on welsh need and not in migration. He seriously needs to do his homework!