Welsh language concerns raised to protect village life

A scheme involving the erection of 78 dwellings in west Wales was dismissed on the basis that inadequate provision had been made for affordable housing, an inspector rejecting claims that it would swamp the village and undermine Welsh language and culture.

200-001-217 (Image Credit: Carmarthenshire Council)
200-001-217 (Image Credit: Carmarthenshire Council)

The council agreed that the site was suitable for housing development but claimed that 18 affordable dwellings should be provided along with a financial contribution of £364,000. The appellant proposed to make a contribution of approximately £169,000 with no affordable housing provision since this would render the scheme unviable. The council maintained that in order to be consistent with contributions and provision made by other developers the development should not be permitted unless its requirements were met in full.

Consistency was an important planning principle, an inspector concluded, and the appellant had not explained why developing the site would lead to abnormal costs. It was a greenfield site which should in theory be less costly to build and he supported the council’s position that allowing the appeal without adequate community and housing benefit would be unfair on others who had had to pay it.

In relation to the size of the development and the risk that it would lead to an influx of non-welsh speaking residents and the limited capacity of local schools, these concerns did not justify refusing permission since in allocating the site for development the council would have taken them into account. Nor would it adversely affect the linguistic character of the village or be premature in advance of the final adoption of a local development plan. The failure to make provision for affordable housing coupled with making an inadequate financial contribution meant, however, that the appeal should be dismissed.

A partial award of costs was made in favour of the appellant in respect of rebutting the council’s concerns regarding prematurity, the impact on the Welsh language and culture  and sustainability. These reasons had been included contrary to the advice of its planning officers who had recommended that permission be granted.

Inspector Clive Nield; Hearing

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