Saturday, 10 November 2012

Plans for 1000 extra homes rejected at packed meeting

'Enough is enough' says Plaid AM

More than 100 people packed Denbigh Town Hall last night to voice their opposition to plans for thousands of extra houses in Denbighshire.

Campaigners are opposed to the proposals to increase the number of homes allocated to communities across Denbighshire by a further 1,000. The new housing plan has been proposed by Denbighshire planners after the Planning Inspectorate rejected the council's Local Development Plan.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru's North Wales AM, spoke at the meeting, pointing out that the Planning Inspectorate was not accountable or answerable to local people or even the National Assembly. Mr Gruffydd, who lives near Ruthin, added: "They have ignored local communities and elected councillors' views to impose these extra homes on us. They do so because they are guided by artificially inflated population projections that do not reflect natural organic growth.

 "This is in addition to the thousands of homes already announced and is a pattern that is being repeated across Wales.  Enough is enough!

 "We're in danger of seeing an urban sprawl from Prestatyn to Llanfairfechan, good agricultural land being concreted over, our transport network failing to cope and our schools and health services overwhelmed. It's an ill-thought out proposal that doesn't seem bothered that there are no extra jobs for these people - so we will see an increase in commuting to Chester and Merseyside - at greater cost to the environment.

 "Of course we need some housing - we want to enable young people to stay in their communities. That means creating jobs, training opportunities and affordable housing. This plan delivers none of those things. I want to see a positive alternative that puts community need first."

He called for an accountable Planning Inspectorate for Wales, urged community campaigners to lobby the council to reject these additional houses and spoke of the growing movement across Wales against the imposition of new housing, including in neighbouring counties Conwy and Wrexham.

Other speakers included John Hutcheson and Alice Jones, of Bodelwyddan Development Action Group - who have been campaigning for years against plans to impose an extra 1700 homes on their village. Mr Hutcheson described Bodelwyddan as "one battle in this war" and that the new homes should be opposed equally as strongly as they had been in Bodelwyddan. 

Joining them was Councillor Arwel Roberts, of Rhuddlan, where the new scheme intends to allocate green fields for an additional 100 homes next to the golf course. 

The meeting agreed to lobby Denbighshire Council's full council meeting in December. Contact is also being made with other campaign groups throughout Wales facing similar situations.


Jac o' the North, said...

Before anything can be done we need to understand why we have the system currently in place, and why it operates in the manner it does.

1. It keeps housebuilders happy.

2. The Welsh Government likes it because building lots of houses locals can't afford can, like the third sector, be mistaken for genuine economic activity.

3. It brings in more English settlers to further anglicise Wales and make less likely further devolution or independence.

In fact, I was disappointed in the reports I read of the Denbigh meeting that no one seemed to make this last point. People were scratching around for imaginative reasons to oppose more housing but no one seemed willing to take the bull by the horns.

To achieve the necessary change we must have a Welsh planning inspectorate operating with different guidelines. And the pressure is mounting. Which explains the haste in pushing through the current LDPs and the recent report presented to John Griffiths saying, among other things, we do not need a separate planning inspectorate

The link is here and the reasons given for this conclusion can be found on p57. Though when you go to the end of the report and see the composition of the advisory group you'll appreciate why it made this recommendation.

It may be too late to do anything about the LDPs currently being adopted, so the focus may need to shift to the medium term and demand a separate planning inspectorate serving the Welsh national interest.

Plaid Whitegate said...

There are moves afoot to bring the various local campaigns together under a single national umbrella very soon. Your third point was raised by more than one speaker and, in case it wasn't clear, Llyr's call for an accountable Planning Inspectorate for Wales means an independent inspectorate that is answerable to the Assembly Govt. By calling for a stop on the current LDPs because they're not fit for purpose, we create space to develop an alternative to developer-led planning.

Jac o' the North, said...

Even better would be to expand the process beyond planning to housing provision generally, taking in social housing providers and private landlords.

In other words start from, 'How many new dwellings, owner-occupied and rented, will Wales need to meet internally generated demand (+ a fixed percentage for the unforeseen) over the next two decades?' Work that out for each LA area and plan around the findings.

I say this because the problem is not confined to housebuilders and the planning inspectorate. It extends to housing associations and even to a fellow-mason being given permission for yet more flats to be filled by yet more imports.

Think national! Think all forms of housing!

Tony Graham Segui said...

Both sides argue valid points, as there usually can be found for practically any argument.
I am a Plaid sympathiser but on this one guys I feel that it is a perfect example of politicians saying what they think will be popular rather than what is the right thing to do, even if it means being unpopular!
My synthesis on this is simple.
There are three, in fact four main reasons why people don't wanna see the extra affordable housing which is so very desperately needed in the entire country and indeed in the rest of UK.
i. Not on my backyard.
An annoying British trait, especially when I've witnessed so very many instances back home in Gibraltar of exactly this kind of people with such vexatious attitude in Britain, then retire to Spain and buy an apartment above all the late night bars and clubs, and somehow that is OK!
ii. The less housing available, the higher the property prices remain.
Most people seem to want their property prices to remain or indeed rise as high as possible so they can cash in if they sell one day, even if it is at the expense of many not being able to afford one.
My principal reason for buying a property is to make it my home and live in it, not as an investment.
In all honesty I wouldn't mind if my property's value decreased by 10-20% if that meant that everyone could have an affordable home as everyone deserves!
iii. The more housing the higher the potential for disturbance of our peaceful living; i.e. more kids left to roam around unsupervised; more criminal damage; more antisocial behaviour, etc.
iv. Extremist environmental views.
Environmental extremism has gone way too far in UK.
We need to respect and protect the natural environment, but we must not forget that we are part of it!
We and our children have as much right to be here as any fungi, moss, plant, tree, insect, bird or animal has, and we equally have as much right to be catered for and protected!!
All three of the above reasons, are selfish and eco or ego-driven with little or no consideration to others who need an affordable home.
I say put tenders out and release land to developers for free!.. on the condition that they have to build affordable and exo-housing and community amenities to go with them.
There's no reason why you couldn't build a 3-bedroom eco-friendly affordable house for no more than 50k!!
It will provide much-needed homes, reduce over-crowding and generate much-needed jobs and inject an equally much-needed economic boost to communities and the economy.
If all that benefit is at the price of losing some acres of field and/or woods, and of existing homeowners taking a bit of a knock on the value of their properties, my heart bleeds for them!
Maybe I should become a politician!! ☺