We need a planning system that will give local people a greater say, says Sian Gwenllian AM

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Sian Gwenllian Plaid Cymru AM wants to see more voice given to local communities in the process of planning and housing development.

A new planning system needs to be established to ensure that the voices of local communities are heard when development plans are rolled out across Wales according to the Plaid Cymru Assembly Member, Siân Gwenllian, who fears that developers do not consider local needs under the current system. The call comes prior to a public meeting that will be held in Caernarfon at the end of this week to discuss the policy paper presented by Sian Gwenllian AM on local housing and Welsh language needs within the planning system.

Sian Gwenllian, Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Arfon and shadow cabinet secretary for the Welsh language and Local Government said,

“Local people need to have a voice in the housing development process and any planning system needs to assess the local need and impact developments will have on local communities. Any new planning regime system to move away from being based on population growth and rather adopt a strategic way of thinking about the needs of the local community thereby taking into account factors such as road infrastructure, schools, community facilities, green spaces as well as the impact on the Welsh language.

"Decisions would have to be made at county level but common methodology and robust methods to assess local need should be implemented across all counties in Wales.

Joint strategic planning between local authorities is a way of sharing expertise and sharing resources. An example of good practice in this area is the Gwynedd and Anglesey Joint Local Development Plan, which was adopted in 2017, which introduces a policy on "Local Market Housing". The Plan lists specific areas where there has been major development in the past or where there is a high percentage of holiday homes, and in those areas there will be planning conditions on new housing to restrict their occupation to people with a specific local connection. My opinion is that this is an innovative policy and that the good practice, methodology and processes used by Gwynedd and Anglesey should be shared, with a view to spreading this policy more widely to include counties such as Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

"Our priority in Plaid Cymru is to create places that improve the long-term well-being of people and communities, ensuring a balance in the planning system to make sure it does not favour developers over communities. With Welsh planning legislation continuing to develop, it is time to create a separate planning inspectorate for Wales, so that the inspectorate can build expertise in the only Wales planning system."

A public meeting to discuss Plaid Cymru's housing and planning policy led by Siân Gwenllian AM will be held on Friday 8th June at 7 o'clock at Galeri in Caernarfon.

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