Sunday, April 22, 2007

Plaid's reality check on affordable housing

I am surprised that no-one has been examining Plaid's "£5000 for first time buyers policy" in more depth as it seems their only policy towards the challenge of affordable homes.

Yes, I have discussed the lack of any reality check of this policy when it comes to the actual housing situation in Wales but what about the actual practice that would be pursued by an incoming Plaid Government.

I am proud to be a Llo Llyn - the son of a daughter of Pwllheli and a son of Rhoshirwaun. I have been lucky in that I have been able to buy a house early in my career. However, many in Pwllheli and the Llyn Peninsula have not, and in an area where living on the average wage won't get you mortgage on a beach shed in Abersoch, the promise of £5000 towards a deposit is hardly going to help, especially when it is being eroded by house inflation.

We need affordable housing for young people, and one solution is to allow them to self-build on land that is owned by the local council and which can therefore control the freehold and ownership of the property over the long term.

Rather than giving planning permission for large numbers of houses to be built on copycat developments - as local councils have done across Wales - we need to have a sensible discussion on how we can revitalise our towns and villages through a careful assessment of their future needs.

Without these young people living in the area, local schools are under threat, community life declines and the welsh language will slowly disappear.

Would you prefer to have a 100 house development on one site or 10 houses in 10 villages across the county which are geared towards the needs of local people?

How often do we see any large scale developments actually turned down by planning authorities?

Why do local authorities allow construction firms to buy up every inch of land for their own purposes without any due consideration of local housing needs?

As the Welsh Conservatives have stated in the manifesto, we need actually need a reality check over planning regulations and some innovative thinking. There are many questions to be answered here and I would wish to see the Assembly establish a commission into this issue immediately after May 3rd to examine how law making powers can help us address what is one of the major social and economic issues facing our nation over the next decade.

The greatest shame to many people in areas such as the Llyn Peninsula is what a Plaid Cymru led political administration has done when faced with such a situation. In my home county of Gwynedd, the Plaid Cymru Council has stuck to outmoded planning regulations when they could and should have taken the lead over this type of policy for the whole of Wales.

Never mind the fuss over the marina in Pwllheli (which contained no housing proposals), the real threat to the language is the fact that the council's current approach to planning in areas such as the Llyn Peninsula is strangling, at birth, any opportunity for young people to get on the housing ladder. Allowing executive housing in Caernarfon will hardly help this situation, especially when they allegedly sold a major development site for only £1 (and I frankly don't blame the developers for getting the best deal for themselves).

That is a disappointment to many local people, especially when the best that the Party of Wales could come up with is a cash sum that does almost nothing to address the real situation in y Fro Gymraeg and certainly will not help address the lack of affordable housing in the area.

To paraphrase Neil Kinnock (of all people), I’ll tell you what happens with impossible promises. You start with far-fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and you go through the years sticking to that, outdated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end in the grotesque chaos of a Plaid Cymru council, yes a Plaid Cymru council, giving planning permission to build £750,000 penthouses whilst refusing young people across the Llyn Peninsula the right to build their own houses on land owned by their family and in the villages they were brought up.

Say no more.

9 comments:

Martin Eaglestone said...

and this from people who will lecture everyone else on "locals only" policies. (I will be linking to this blog and adding comment)

However I think many of the points you raise are covered by the policies introduced by Carwyn joines in June 2006, but which are still unteste by local councils.

Aled said...

Did you go to ysgol glan y mor then?

hedd said...

Rwy'n cytuno gyda'r mwyafrif o'r hyn rwyt ti'n ei ddweud yn y post yma Dylan.

Dwi ddim yn siwr os oes gan y Cynulliad y pwerau i sefydlu comisiwn i edrych ar y mater, ond mae Cymuned a Chymdeithas yr Iaith eisioes mewn trafodaeth gyda Llywydd y Cynulliad Cenedlaethol, Dafydd Elis Thomas, yn y gobaith o sefydlu pwyllgor i drafod y mater yn fuan wedi'r etholiad.

Mae Cymdeithas yr iaith hefyd mewn trafodaethau gyda'r Llywydd yn y gobaith o sefydlu pwyllgor i ymchwilio ac i drafod yr angen am Fesur Iaith newydd i'r Cynulliad hefyd.

Da gweld bod y Ceidwadwyr yn cytuno gyda 2 o brif alwadau'r Gymdeithas yn y maes yma h.y. gwneud y Gymraeg yn iaith swyddolgol, a sefydlu comisiynydd iaith, a gobeithio gyda ychydig o lobio y bydd modd dod i gytundeb o ran y 3ydd pwynt - Yr hawl i ddefnyddio'r Gymraeg ym mhob sector.

Dwi'n deall pam dy fod yn ymosod ar Gyngor Gwynedd yn benodol yn y post yma, gyda etholiad mewn ychydig dros wythnos mae hyn i'w ddisgwyl, ond o brofiad Cymdeithas yr Iaith o gydweithio gyda Cynghorau sir lleol (yn bennaf yng Ngorllewin Cymru) o ran cynllunio a tai fforddiadwy, mae Cyngor Gwynedd ymhell o flaen y Cynghorau cyfagos. Mae yn broblem wrth gwrs fod rhaid i bob Cyngor weithio oddi fewn i fframwaith sydd wedi ei osod gan Lywodraeth y Cynulliad.

RHAID datrys y broblem yma, a codi uwchben gwleidyddiaeth bleidiol. Mae'n gwbwl amlwg fod yr ewyllys yn bodoli ymysg aelodau amlwg Plaid Cymru i daclo'r broblem, ac mae'n ymddangos bod y Ceidwadwyr a'r Rhyddfrydwyr yn barod i edrych ar yr issue o ddifrif hefyd. Gobeithio wedi'r etholiad y bydd modd i'r pleidiau gydweithio gyda mudiadau megis Cymuned, Cymdeithas yr Iaith ac unrhyw fudiadau eraill sy'n ymgyrchu yn y maes (mae'n broblem i bob cymuned, beth bynnag yr iaith wrth gwrs!)

O ran sylwadau simplistig Martin Eaglestone. Dwi wedi dod i ddeall mai ei anwybyddu yw'r dacteg orau. Nid oes ganddo ef, na'i blaid, unrhyw fath o arweiniad i'w gynnig ar y mater. Gobeithio'n wir y bydd Martin yn sefyll ym mhob etholiad rhwng nawr a dydd y farn. Bydd yn sicr yn hwb i bob plaid arall ;-)

Dylan Jones-Evans said...

Hedd - Enw da ar ol y blogs ddoe a dy sylwadau heddiw ma :)

Dwi yn gobeithio yn arw fydd yr Arglwydd yn sefydlu pwyllgor newydd cyn gynted a phosib.

Yn ogystal a cyrff fel Cymuned, dwi hefyd yn gobeithio fydd cwmniau fel y Principality yn chwarae rhan bwysig ac yn dod i fyny hefo syniadau Cymreig i'r problem yma.

Tydi rhai ohonom yn y Ceidwadwyr ddim mor ddrwg a hyna, cofia!

p.s. dwi yn ddig gyda Cyngor Gwynedd am hyn oherwydd y math o driniaeth mae teulu a ffrindiau o Ben Llyn wedi cael yn ddiweddar gan adran cynllunio Gwynedd - adran oeed yn hollo barod i gefnogi datblygiad sydd yn llawer rhy ddrud i 99% o drigolion yr ardal. Os fuasa na ddim etholaeth mewn wythnos, fuaswn wedi dweud yr un peth!

Ordovicius said...

Fel aelod Cymuned gallwn gadarnhau beth mae Hedd yn dweud ynglyn a'r Arglwydd Elis-Thomas, sydd wedi sicrhau bydd y mater yn cyrraedd y Senedd, serch yr ymateb amwys a gawsom oddi wrth Ieuan Wyn Jones. Dan ni hefyd yn hapus iawn am yr ymateb positif gan Nick Bourne.

Valleys Mam said...

grotesque chaos of a Plaid Cymru council, yes a Plaid Cymru council, giving planning permission to build £750,000 penthouses whilst refusing young people across the Llyn Peninsula the right to build their own houses on land owned by their family and in the villages they were brought up.

and a labour council that reckons the way to regenerate Merthyr is to build 500 plus £359-£400K houses
Mad init
ps any chance of some translations of comments dim siarad cymraeg

hedd said...

I agreed with most of Dylan's comments, which was a bit of a shock to me! ;-)

I said that community pressure groups such as Cymuned and the Welsh Language Society, had already been in touch with The Presiding Officer, and hopefully a committee will be set-up in the new term to look closely at the issue of affordable housing (not just in west Wales, the same issue applies everywhere in Wales.)

I also said that from personal experience Plaid Cymru run Gwynedd are usually much better than other councils in West Wales regarding planning and affordable homes, but that their hands are tied to some degree because they have to work within a framework set out by the Labour Assembly Government.

I do not know the details of the mentioned case, and therefore cannot comment.

Dylan commented that the Tories are not ALL that bad!

PS. Cymdeithas yr Iaith are calling for a Property Act (should that now be measure?!?) for Wales, see http://cymdeithas.com/pdf/Property_Act_Handbook_May_2005.pdf

The political will isn't there at the moment for such wholesale change. Maybe the answer in the short term would be to create a 2nd local market.

hedd said...

This is what the candidtaes in Clwyd West had to say on affordable hosing today. Even though I am biased, I think Phil Edwards of Plaid Cymru has got it spot on.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/6584649.stm

I'm sorry to say that the comments I disagree with mostly, are those of the Conservative. He just wants to build, build, build = more people moving in to the area = more competition = higher prices.

What I don't understand is what is the point of building any homes that are NOT affordable. Why do councils always (at best) only insist on 30% being affordable. Shouldn't new houses ONLY be built if there is local need, and shouldn't they all be affordable?

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