Strengthen Welsh Government Planning Bill

Dathlu’r Gymraeg calls on the Welsh Assembly to strengthen the Planning Bill, published by the Welsh Government to ensure that adequate consideration is given to the impact of planning on the Welsh language in our communities.2014m11CynllunioImg1263

The bill presented to the Assembly on 6 October 2014 does not change the status of the Welsh language within the planning system. There is only one note –  to ensure that the new “strategic planning panel” complies with the new Welsh language standards.

Dathlu’r Gymraeg calls on the Welsh Assembly to amend the Bill to include

● making Welsh a relevant planning consideration throughout Wales so that planning applications can be refused on the basis of their impact on the language;

● to make language impact assessments a statutory requirement for certain developments;

● establish a Planning Tribunal for Wales, to replace the existing Planning Inspectorate;

● set a path and framework to allow the Welsh language to become the main community language throughout the country; and

● establish that the purpose of the planning system is to meet local needs, instead of reaching national housing targets based on historical patterns and to manage land in an environmentally sustainable way, tackling poverty and promoting Welsh

The summary of the deliberations of the Conference Onn Welsh Language issued in July 2013 called for changes to the planning system and stated that population movement is the ‘greatest current challenge’ to the language.

The 2011 Census showed a decrease in the number of electoral divisions where over 70% of the population speak Welsh: with a reduction from 54 communities in 2001 to 39 in 2011. There was a fall in the number of people in Wales aged over 3 speaking Welsh, from 20.76% of the population in 2001 to 19% in 2011.

In August 2014 the Prime Minister announced a policy document “Bwrw Mlaen” where he promised to consider “all practical measures for strengthening the Welsh language within the planning system “.

The Welsh Language Commissioner sentwritten advice to the Government on the Bill stating that only half of the Welsh county councils have included Welsh language policies in their local development plans.

The national housing targets will create problems for the Welsh language and dissatisfaction in many communities such as in Bodelwyddan, Carmarthenshire and Gwynedd. Housing targets need to be removed and replaced by a system based on local needs only.

We call on the Government and the Assembly to include full consideration of the Welsh language in the Planning Bill.