Building fewer houses would drive up prices and drive away our youth

 

Dyfrig Jones

Call it the curse of the politician. If you truly care about the principles, the people, the party – then you can never really retire.

I haven’t been a member of Cyngor Gwynedd since May of this year, but it doesn’t mean that I’ve managed to leave it behind. To my mind, the council is the single public body that has done the most to foster the development of the Welsh language over the course of my lifetime.

It is also, latterly, the most wrongly maligned; a constant, easy target for the King Canute-wing of the national movement – those nationalists who wish to do nothing but loudly command the waves of modernity to retreat, while the rest of us are busy building flood defences.

This, I suppose, is why I found myself sitting by a swimming pool in France last week, obsessively refreshing my Twitter feed while everyone else gorged on a good book.

It was Friday afternoon, and Cyngor Gwynedd was debating whether to adopt the long-overdue Local Development Plan (LDP) that it had spent the best part of a decade developing, in collaboration with Cyngor Môn.

Throughout my nine years on the council, I was involved with land planning in some form or another. It is the area where I developed what little expertise I have in public policy. And it is one of those subjects where everyone seems to have an opinion, but few people have much understanding.

Call me a bore, but I found the debate surrounding the plan as entertaining, and just as enraging, as any shoddy airport paperback.

Self-immolation

Aled Job – who I know and respect greatly – argued last week that one of the depressing facts about the debate surrounding the LDP was that not one of its supporters was willing to make a positive case for its adoption.

Those who supported the LDP did so because it was the lesser of two evils; the choice, they argued, was between accepting a flawed plan, or rejecting the flawed plan only to have a worse one imposed on Gwynedd by the planning inspectorate in Cardiff.

And to be fair, this is a view that I myself expressed in the days running up to the vote, writing to the Plaid Cymru group along precisely the lines that Aled suggests. When you hold political power, when you govern rather than oppose, you are often forced to make a choice between the lesser of two evils.

Rejecting the LDP would have been a spectacular act of self-immolation on the part of the Plaid Cymru group on Gwynedd Council, radically deregulating planning policy in a symbolic gesture to appease those people who were clamouring for it to be regulated more tightly.

However, having had a hand in the development of the LDP while I was a councillor, I believe that it is possible to go further than simply defending the plan as the lesser of two evils. While it is clearly an imperfect document, constrained by a national planning policy that is designed to prioritise the interests of landowners over communities, many of the criticisms that have been levelled against it are well-intentioned but fundamentally flawed.

They are informed by a view of the relationship between new housing and migration that is simplistic, dogmatic, and bears little relevance to the real world.

Obsession

The objections to the plan have been neatly summarised by Dyfodol, the pressure group that has been instrumental in leading opposition to the LDP.

In many ways, Dyfodol – in partnership with Cylch yr Iaith, Canolfan Hanes Uwchgwyrfai and Cymdeithas yr Iaith – have made an important contribution to the development of the plan; they have scrutinised it closely and at length, engaging with the details and offering clearly argued criticisms of it.

However, while they served as a valuable critical voice, many of these criticisms are based upon untested theoretical principles, an obsession with marginal details, and a determination to claim the mantle of objectivity for their own views while denying it to anyone who disagrees with them.

The fundamental problem with Dyfodol’s opposition to the LDP is that it rests on the notion of “too many houses”, and their problematic interpretation of this presumed excess. At the core of their opposition is the argument that the total number of new houses that the plan proposes to build is too high.

They believe that this figure is too high because it takes into account the houses needed to accommodate the natural growth in the local population, but also to accommodate those who move to Gwynedd and Môn from outside the two counties.

In Dyfodol’s words, the total number of new houses “is based upon in-migration, and in preparing for this, promotes it”. Therein lies the fundamental flaw in their argument; the notion that by providing more homes than there are locals, you “promote” immigration.

The assumption that underpins Dyfodol’s reasoning is that house-buyers shop around for housing as if it was a consumer commodity.

It is a vision of a perfectly functioning housing market, populated by rational actors; in Dyfodol’s world, when someone wants to buy a house, they look for areas that have housing gluts (and therefore depressed prices), and move to those areas to take advantage of the lower prices.

But this simply isn’t how the housing market in the UK works. If it did, then there would be no housing crisis in the south-east of England; the people priced out of the market in Kent would simply move to Birmingham, or Liverpool, or Bradford – cities that have thousands of empty homes, at depressed prices.

But we know that this isn’t the case, because houses aren’t toasters that you buy on Amazon. The decision to move from one part of the country another – or indeed, from another country to Wales – is rarely made on the basis of house prices; it is usually the result of other factors, predominantly economic and social.

World-leading

And it is this realisation that lies at the heart of the LDP. The plan that Gwynedd and Môn adopted rejects the argument that immigration is caused by a housing glut.

Rather, it argues that immigration is driven primarily by economic and social factors; in Gwynedd’s case, by the fact that it is home to a major hospital and a world-leading university (where I happen to work), as well as an international tourist destination where people enjoy a high quality of life.

While these (and other) factors exist, people will continue to migrate to north-west Wales. Take them away and migration may fall, but so will the economic, social and cultural well-being of the locals.

Essentially, the LDP understands that population movement is a feature of modern life in Western democracies – albeit one that is coming under increasing threat post-Brexit.

There are 740m EU citizens who have an unrestricted right to live, and buy property in, Gwynedd and Môn. Even if, post-Brexit, there are strict limits on immigration to the UK, that still leaves 60m British people with the same unfettered right to live and work there.

More importantly, the LDP also realises that planning policy essentially only governs the use of new, undeveloped, land for housing. It has limited power over the use, and none over the sale, of the existing housing stock.

Join together these two factors –  freedom of movement and an unregulated housing market – and you create a situation where restricting the building of new homes presents a greater threat to the Welsh language than a housing glut. Why? If immigration is driven by factors other than housing availability, then people will continue to migrate to Gwynedd and Môn.

And since the two local councils have no control over the sale of existing homes, immigrants will continue to buy houses here. Demand for houses will increase, but supply will stay static, resulting in higher prices.

Cramped

Higher prices could mean that immigrant buyers are driven away, but this is highly unlikely. It is much more likely that local residents would find themselves increasingly unable to compete in the market – as they currently do in areas where available housing stock is limited.

What we would see is the next generation being forced to live in cramped, substandard or rented accommodation. We know that young people who live in rented accomodation are already among the most likely to become “internal migrants”, moving from their local area to other parts of the UK.

Restricting the available housing stock would only create more of them, driven away from the communities that have raised them, and that continue to need them.

Dyfodol, and other opponents of the LPD, argue that immigration is the biggest challenge that the Welsh language faces – and they are right. However, they are mistaken in their belief that immigration can, or should, be stopped.

More fundamentally, they propose that we adopt a housing policy that would amplify the effects of immigration.

The Gwynedd and Môn LDP is designed for a future where the young people of both counties are able to stay and work in their communities – alongside those that migrate here from other parts of Wales, the UK and the world.

The alternative proposed by Dyfodol is one where the next generation is priced out of our communities by the pressure exerted on our housing market by immigration.

An alternative where, in attempting – and failing – to close the door to immigrants, we make emigrants of our youth.

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32 Comments

  1. “But this simply isn’t how the housing market in the UK works. If it did, then there would be no housing crisis in the south-east of England; the people priced out of the market in Kent would simply move to Birmingham, or Liverpool, or Bradford – cities that have thousands of empty homes, at depressed prices.”

    But that’s exactly what they are doing; 100,000 Londoners moved out last year alone. And they are moving to places which are cheaper than London including Wales. So really, your article is nonsense since if doesn’t understand the fundamental nature of the housing market and migration in the UK.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/31/leaving-london-means-i-can-afford-kids-readers-on-why-the-capital-lost-its-sparkle?CMP=fb_gu

    There are too many falsehoods in your argument to argue against. Basically, your stance is that unfettered immigration is good and should not be curtailed. “However, they are mistaken in their belief that immigration can, or should, be stopped.”

    The Welsh language is just collateral damage for what you see as the most important thing ie free movement of people. That’s your base starting point. It’s a shame that Plaid Cymru is saturated with individuals with views such as yourself. Wales is ready for a nationalist party. We need one.

  2. You talk of “the planning inspectorate in Cardiff” without, apparently realising that this is simply a branch office, a charade, for the Planning Inspectorate which answers to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London, and which implements an Englandandwales housing strategy. The ‘Welsh’ Government – in order to con the indigenes – is allowed to pretend that it has some control over the Planning Inspectorate. It doesn’t.

    Your argument that even without new builds people from England will still migrate and therefore put greater pressure on the existing stock is flawed. The new properties for north Gwynedd and Ynys Mon will be marketed over the border as part of the A55 commuter corridor – it’s already happening. For this is a strategic plan along with the southern city regions. Check this out. http://jacothenorth.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Strategic-Development-Plans.png

    I’m really getting pissed off with Plaid Cymru apologists.

  3. Dyfrig Jones

    The article that you link to discusses people leaving London for middle-class towns within commuting distances of London. There is no mass exodus from the south-east of England to the rest of the UK.

    If you want to list the other falsehoods in my argument, I’d be happy to respond to them.

  4. Dyfrig Jones

    @Royston Jones

    I’m fully aware of the situation with the planning inspectorate, but decided to try and simplify for the sake of journalistic brevity.

    I don’t deny that new properties will be sold to immigrants. My argument is simply that these immgrants will continue to come to Wales, and will buy the existing housing stock in the absence of new properties. And that on the whole, this is a worse outcome.

    Show me evidence that restricting the housing stock restricts immigration, and I will retract this article.

  5. Illogical Nonsense Im afraid…..if you built CHEAP SOCIAL HOUSING….young people would not need to move away….follow scandinavian models of community house ownership

    You are foolowing the mantra of the worst forms of American capitalism…………Duw a’n cato!

    • Dyfrig Jones

      @Edi Many of the registered social landlords in north Wales are leading on alternative ownership models for local people, and Cyngor Gwynedd has been developing proposals for community land trusts for some time. But to do this, you need development land to be allocated in the LDP.

  6. Bending over backwards without a fight…..

  7. The author fails to capture that you’d have to go Poland to find a poorer region than west Wales.
    How would great politicians approach this situation? I would think that they would have a grasp of the long term consequences.
    The current financial climate is increasingly looking like the mother of all recessions, although you wouldn’t think with the underreporting of this. Credit debt at record high, national debt one of the largests in the western world(can’t even pay back the interest on the bankers bailout), bank of E quantative easing to try to keep the uk afloat, we’ll be paying banks to keep our money with the way interest rates are, stealth tax to claw back the debt. That’s before considering brexit. As is always the case in economic turmoil, the rich who hold the debt will get richer, and the poor will pay. Local people will be struggling to keep hold of their houses, while the downturn will see the cheap houses being bought by absent landlords.
    Im not an economist nor am I a genius, but as mark twain said history doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme. If I was a Welsh politician, I’d be thinking Wales tends to suffer disproportionately in downturns, and I’d be trying my dampest to protect welsh citizens. I don’t see any politician standing up for us, I don’t see anyone with the intuition to see what is fairly obvious.
    We’re the nation with the highest % of people born outside the country in the whole of Europe (22%).
    If the trend of the last 20 years, the Welsh people are all set to be a minority in their own country http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/wales/10878554/Welsh-could-become-a-minority-in-Wales-as-English-set-sights-west.html – by all means welcome people with a warm welsh welcome, but understand the consequences- you are complicit in your own demise. That’s why I object to a planning inspectorate that’s based in another country. Llongyfarchiadau.

    • Dyfrig Jones

      @ Tal Mac Again, I think that you’re missing the point that I’m making. My argument is that immigration is not produced by the housing market, and neither can it be stopped by restricting the stock of available development land. All you are doing by restricting the development land is creating conditions where local communities are less well-equiped to deal with the effects of immigration.

      Again, if you can show me evidence that a housing glut causes immigration, I will retract this article.

      • If Rhosneigr is only occupied for 1/4 of the year, then I’d say a nationalist party would be arguing that there’s already enough housing.
        I don’t particularly care about the finer points of this argument, I’m concerned that as a nation with no real powers, we’re defenceless.
        It’s interesting that none of the points above brought an emotive response out of a plaid man – perhaps bangor uni won’t be impacted by the things I stated? Of course it will. It already has been.

        • Dyfrig Jones

          Again, I’ll have to check the details in the morning, but I don’t think that there are any new houses allocated in the LDP for Rhosneigr. This is precisely why the plan is a good one; it restricts development in areas that are already under pressure from second homes, choosing instead to concentrate development in areas of economic activity that are less appealing to holiday home buyers. So more new houses for Llangefni, but none for Rhosneigr.

          (Apologies if I’m wrong about Rhosneigr – I’m more familiar with the Gwynedd side of the plan).

          • I want local people to eventually have the choice to live somewhere like Rhosneigr. Seeing as though base level entrance to the housing market is 5.6 x the median wage for Môn. People in the higher quartile of wages struggle to enter.
            I’m too more familiar with Gwynedd, but I think Abersoch is a lost cause.

  8. David Jones

    ‘when someone wants to buy a house, they look for areas that have housing gluts (and therefore depressed prices), and move to those areas to take advantage of the lower prices.
    But this simply isn’t how the housing market in the UK works’

    Insert ‘holiday’ before ‘house’ and price doea become an issue. That and good views. Good views, don’t have to, but in Wales usually means lack of jobs. Of course retirees don’t mind thr lack of work. Low prices, good views, no jobs. Ideal retirement/second home location.

  9. Dafydd Thomas

    Mr Jones argues that it is NOT true that when someone looks for a house they look for somewhere where prices are lower “depressed” and take advantage of the lower prices. He says “this simply isn’t how the housing market in the UK works”.

    This flies in the face of basic economics. Those who are free to move (without a particular job in a particular place) I.e. People who retire in England and move to Wales. These do move move to cheaper places and in large numbers. A tested theoretical principle. See 2011 census figures. Over40% of over 65s in Gwynedd and almost 50% in Ynys Mon are from over the border. He mentions that NW Wales is home to a major hospital attracting immigrants. Substantial numbers of retirees from England, almost 90%, jarrive with a pre existing medical condition. A blow to the health budget, draining funds from other requirements.

    Why he mentions the 740m EU Citizens I fail to understand. A red herring perhaps. Young Europeans go to England with a derisory number coming to Wales. We could do with more of them.

    We need to start with a local occupancy/maximum age clause for new housing. We certainly need new ideas including disincentives for elderly immigrants when the population is ageing rapidly. This means new powers for the Welsh government, but this may only come with an independent Wales with restrictions on immigration such as the English want for their country.

    • Dyfrig Jones

      @Dafydd Thomas I’ll have to check, but my recollection of the projected immigration figures on which the LDP is based show that the vast majority of immigrants to Gwynedd and Mon during the life of the plan do come from outside the UK – this is largely because of the university, the hospital, the port at Holyhead, Wylfa etc. Only a small minority are projected to come from within the UK. I can find the numbers in the morning.

  10. Dyfrig, you have left out the most important part of this argument in my view. The watering down of those policies that Gwynedd have fought for over the years. Removing the requirement for the language to be considered and weighting whilst deciding on a significant development is a massive mistake. It doesn’t follow any principles on sustainable development; in essence it removes the need to consider the impact of any future large development on our language and heritage. Plaid Cymru should have made a stand and said that the most precious gift that we have as Welsh men and women is not for sale for any price. The LDP has priced out those locals who are residing here already. Have a look at what’s happening in Hinckley Point.

    • Dyfrig Jones

      There has been no watering down of the language policy. In fact, it has been strengthened through the LDP’s PS1, and will be strengthened again when the Supplementary Planning Guideline is written.

  11. To start, the title of this article – Building Fewer Houses Would Drive Up Prices – promotes a well accepted but profoundly false myth – that the price of housing is driven by supply and demand.

    The price of property is driven by unregulated financial markets and banks. The price of houses will always rise to accommodate the amount of bank credit (our mortgage debts) made available. With deposit requirements shrinking to virtually nothing and the introduction of interest-only payment mortgages, we are all becoming not home owners but home renters with our landlords being the banks. In short, supply and demand has little to do with house prices.

    This explains why home ownership (real ownership, not mortgage) has shrunk from around 50% in the 1960’s to around 30% by the 1990’s. It shrinks every year and is probably considerably lower that 30% now although I don’t have the figures to hand.

    In essence, via bank-orchestrated asset price inflation, the houses and land we used to call our own are being taken over by the banks.

    There’s a new term for it. It’s called neofeudalism. Our new lords and masters is the financial sector, replacing the land-owning aristocracy.

    So the central tenet of this article is based on a false myth. But that not the only problem with it …

    Dyfrig writes: “it [the LPD] takes into account the houses needed to accommodate the natural growth in the local population”

    Statistics clearly show that local (native) population is in decline throughout Europe and has been for some time. This trend is even more pronounced in Wales where lack of opportunities fuels emigration out.

    The main driver of this decline in native / local populations is connected to unaffordable house prices. Fewer and fewer couples feel they can afford to have large families let alone a secure roof over their head.

    Difrig writes: “migration may fall, but so will the economic, social and cultural well-being of the locals”

    If migration increased economic, social and cultural well-being we should all be living like kings now after 30+ years of mass-migration. Quite the contrary is true – as is obvious.

    Difrig writes: “Even if, post-Brexit, there are strict limits on immigration to the UK, that still leaves 60m British people with the same unfettered right to live and work there. … However, they [opponents of the LPD] are mistaken in their belief that immigration can, or should, be stopped.”

    This is like staring the demise of the Welsh nation in its face and saying, oh well, can’t, or shouldn’t be stopped.

    Even the BBC posted an article on the possible need of border controls for Wales. Even the BBC!

    Both Poland and Hungary have taken measures to protect their nations and heritage from being drowned under mass-migration – despite threats from Brussels.

    It’s time Wales took a similar approach. The continuation of our nation is at stake. That may sound alarmist. But the trend in migration numbers are alarming. If I had said in 2000 that the English were in danger of becoming a minority in their capital city, I would have been shouted down as a scare-mongering nutter. But the census results of 2011 showed that that is precisely what happened.

    To those who may wine ‘but we don’t have the power to protect ourselves’, I’d say it’s time we took that power back before it is too late. A Welsh Ukexit referendum should do the trick. No articles to trigger. No waiting period. Simply bring the power back to where it belongs, the Welsh nation, democratic by nature.

    It is the resigned and helpless attitude that Difrig displays that is Wales greatest liability. The sooner we shed it the better.

  12. Richard Jenkins

    This would make a lot more sense if planning authorities did not abrogate responsibility for building these house to market forces alone? This means that as the necessarily large tracts of planning land come up for acquisition the local small builder or developer is easily frozen out of the process by the huge financial resources of the volume house building companies. These companies rarely buy locally as their materials are sourced centrally to keep costs down. So no advantage to local merchants. If they employ locally it’s often at cut throat rates that leave subcontractors on minimum wages and unable to contribute properly to apprentice training schemes. So, again the local economy misses out.

    Then you look at the houses themselves. Often of poorer quality due to their mass production ethic and of similar or identical design to every other house the company builds throughout the UK. Hence the local architecture loses its identity as these estates are copies of the same estates in Portsmouth, Milton Keynes or Abertawe!
    Royal Institute for Architecture has long and loudly protested the decreasing size of the living space designs of modern volume housing. With arguments that it both lowers the resale value of the house and the quality of life. Gardens are often much smaller than the apparent size of say, a four bedroomed house would normally expect. Density is often much greater than tradional housing would normally offer.

    Then there is the aspect of timing the building of these houses. The local population may expect these supposedly urgently needed houses to be built poste haste? However, this may not suit the business plan of the volume house builder! They may wish to build in stages to satisfy their supply chain restrictions and or to take advantage of the financial gains to, possibly, be made by rationing the supply?

    Affordable housing will have to be a part of the scheme but builders often hold back on the delivery of these until absolutely nescesary and will often lobby hard in the planning process to restrict the scope of this aspect of the build.

    The house designs are seemingly intended for the second, third or more time buyer. With relatively deep pockets and looking for a cheaper option than the more affluent areas of U.K.

    So in effect, houses are built not for local need or to benefit the local economy but to benefit the profit margins of volume house builders?

    Restrictions on the size of planning plots are required in order to allow a fair chance for lesser funded local organisations to compete. They will often buy and employ locally and look to build houses specifically for local need.

    Planning authorities need to put in place organistion of sequestering funding from developers to contribute to required infrastructure. The contracts for this infrastructure should also be constructed to allow a fair chance for local contractors, not the house builders, to win.

    In this way, possibly we could level the playing field and deny the carpet bagging volume house builders some of the opportunities available to them that have allowed them to build massive profits and hold huge land banks as well as ensuring housing is provided to satisfy local need.

  13. Dyfrig argues that the Development Plan recognises that migrants will continue flock to Gwynedd because of the University/Hospital at Bangor, and these people will always be able to out-bid locals in buying property.Fair point in itself.

    But leaving aside the fact that the University sector is a huge bubble just waiting to burst because of completely unsustainable student projections and sheer greed on the part of the sector itself since 1997: let’s just imagine for one moment that say up to 3,000 people move in to the county during the life of the plan( up to 2026). Most of these people will have the pick of what is a very extensive housing market in existence on the open market already. Do you ever hear of estate agents complaining that there is a shortage of houses to buy for this particular market? No. Local newspapers would go out of business if it were not for the pages and pages of housing property for sale within these papers every single week.

    So then, the only real justification for so many new houses would be to address the need for affordable housing/rented houses for the people of Gwynedd. This is undoubtedly a severe problem for most communities here- and this figure of 1,800 people on the waiting list for houses was mentioned by several councillors in the debate before the Gwynedd vote.

    But, perversely, the Development Plan only pays lip service to this crucial principle: with mention of up to at best 30% affordable housing within the plan at certain sites. There is no real mention made of new rental properties, which is the only option for many people because of the low wage economy of Gwynedd as a whole.

    Only 30% at best! And even then, we have no certainty whatsoever that this affordable housing will really be affordable for local people.

    Surely, nationalist councillors should have been lobbying hard for 60% or 75% of these new houses to be affordable housing??

    Caerphilly Council, not known as a nationalist bastion like Gwynedd, rejected their LDP to build 12,000 new houses:because they recognised the figure was totally inappropriate and unsustainable on so many different levels.

    To apply Gerallt Lloyd Owen’s words from another context where Gwynedd was humiliated: ” Llywelyn, wylit waed pe gwelit hyn” ( Llywelyn , you would weep tears of blood if you saw this”

    • Dyfrig Jones

      The figure of “30% at best” is wrong. Development on many of the smaller sites will only be permitted if 100% of the proposed houses are affordable. The 10% – 30% figure is for larger development sites. If you raised the percentage to 60%, then many developers would not build, claiming that it made the proposed site unviable. However, it is worth noting that there are a number of non-profit developers who build in Gwynedd, and who offer much higher percentages of affordable houses than the minimum stipulated in the plan. The LDP makes land available for them as well as commercial developers.

  14. It’s really not rocket science! The plan should be for the bulk of the new housing to specifically cater to the needs of local people, especially young families and low income groups, while also being aesthetically and socially sensitive to the local area.
    There are a variety of ways this can be achieved, including Council/RSL housing, which is the obvious solution.

    What is not acceptable is facilitating corporate house-builders to continue putting up huge numbers of nicely profitable executive homes that exacerbate the problematic demand from outside the area, in return for a paltry minimum number of supposedly “affordable” units that are still out of reach for most locals, and aren’t really very well suited to local needs.

  15. Anne Greagsby

    The author of this article should do some research before demanding more houses be built for spurious reasons as the Welsh government demand! Local people most in need of a home can’t afford the market price of housing, no matter how many houses are built. Lack of mortgage finance availability for first-time buyers and the weakness of this group’s income growth has been mainly responsible for the slump in the home ownership rate. Building new homes doesn’t necessarily mean homes for those who need them. Given the huge inequalities in wealth, the market is more likely to furnish more second homes for some UK residents, and investment opportunities for wealthy foreigners looking for a safe haven for their money, than to provide homes for people in need. To make housing more affordable, new housing developments would have to reduce house prices in their local area. But a recent study by the LSE which looked at eight large new developments built in the last five years, found that prices in the local area did not fall after completion, and in some cases they went up.*

    And for those who can afford to buy the exemption from capital gains tax for main residences, inheritance tax breaks, a grossly unfair and regressive banding of council tax: all create powerful incentives to pour your money into a bigger house than you need, and then hold onto it. These incentives also drive up prices, by ensuring that all the gain accrues to the owner. The results include unaffordability, unsustainable levels of debt and speculative bubbles.

    Before anyone points out developers have to provide a % of affordable homes, at least 50% of housing schemes failed to meet local affordable housing targets in Bristol, Bradford, Cardiff, Manchester and Sheffield**

    Developers have a massive get out clause permitting them to carry out financial viability assessments for their proposed developments, which often conclude that meeting the affordable housing targets set by local authorities would reduce their profits to a point that the scheme would be worth their while. However those assessments are kept confidential, with even councillors unable to see them. In order to make sure schemes goes ahead, the local authorities typically reduce their targets or accept payment from the developer in lieu of the affordable homes. That money is supposed to be invested into social and community projects, or the council’s own affordable housing schemes.

    Councils are tempted into pressing for more housing as section 106 has become a primary means of funding essential public services, public parks, health centres to highways, schools to play areas. The bigger the scheme, the fatter the bounty, leading to a situation not far from legalised bribery – or extortion, depending on which side of the bargain you are on. Vastly inflated density and a few extra storeys on a tower can be politically justified as being in the public interest, if it means a handful of trees will be planted on the street.

    * Whitehead et al, Understanding the Local Impact of New Residential Development: a Pilot Study, LSE, 2015.
    ** https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2016-11-27/builders-make-billions-as-housing-crisis-escalates

    • Dyfrig Jones

      I totally agree that more needs to be done to help finance house purchases for locals, and to tighten the rules on affordability. I hadn’t seen the LSE study, so thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  16. Dafydd Thomas

    @Dyfrig Jones. those immigration figures which you promised for this morning would be much appreciated.

  17. WeDoItToOurselves

    “Oi, you retired couple in Cheshire. Redrow has built some lovely houses and flats in Bangor/Caernarfon/Felinheli. They cost 1/3 of your current property so you can sell up and move in and live off the profit. You don’t have to worry about Brexit or your pension or the NHS, unlike if you moved to Spain. The whole estate was built with you in mind, so they’ll be dozens of other people from Cheshire there, so you can ignore the local lingo. Only 90mins drive away from your family as well. Did we mention the area is beautiful as well? Bring your friends”.

    Ye, da iawn Gwynedd. Feri Gwd.

  18. Dyfrig, mae’r newid i’r cymal iaith yn warth llwyr. Nid yw’n cefnogi unrhyw ethos cynaladwyedd wrth wthio pwysigrwyddd yr iaith i’r neilltu. Prin iawn oedd y son am y cymal iaith. Pam??

    Edrycha ar y linc isod o’r papur Bridgewater Mercury sydd yn profi effaith adeiladu y pwerdu Niwcliar yn fanno.

    http://www.bridgwatermercury.co.uk/news/13788869.Hinkley_could_see_house_prices_rise_in_Bridgwater/.

    Gofyna wedyn i chdi dy hyn beth fydd canlyniad effaith ar drigolion Ynys Mon a Gwynedd. Diffg tai ffordiadwy, tai cymdeithasol, di gartrefedd. Beth yw’r cynllun wedyn?? Pa fyddiant a ddaw o’r 8,000 o dai os nad ydynt o fewn cyrraedd i bobol cyffredin. Ar ddiwed y dydd mae yna ddiffyg mawr yn ein aelodau i herio swyddogion. Mae’n rhy hawdd towior lein. Ac ar ran y Blaid lle oedd yr arweiniad o’r canol??

  19. A few points about the houseing developers. I imagine Redrow will get a chunk of new house builds and this is my experience of Redrow marketing in South Wales, where 40% ate Welsh speaking. Firstly all marketing eas in English, purposefully directed towards English speaking incomers.

    Only English medium primary schools were listed and promoted, despite the second closest and equal third closest being Welsh medium.

    The people in the marketing suites could not even pronounce the name of the village properly.

    Have there been assurances on how things will be marketed? Will the names of the developments be quintissentially English – Menai view, Carnarvon Gardens, Snowden Heights etc.

    Will there be commitment to not provide English Medium places for any of the families who come to the area and no transpory out of county ti EM schools etc.

    Everything in terms of marketing etc has to be dominantly Welsh language. If this will put some people off buying then great. Those people should not be moving to the area in the firat place.

    • Sibrydionmawr

      Cytuno cant y cant!

      I think that we need to start thinking about starting a shift to providing only Welsh medium education in Wales. It would have to be done sensitively, and it might take a fair amount of time. i’m reminded by one of the Welsh medium school campaigns in Cardiff where one of the detractors arguments against building a replacement for an existing, but grossly overcrowded Welsh medium school was that it would see the closure of a local English medium school, due to lack of numbers.

      This surely indicated a lack of Welsh medium places, as this can, to be my mind, the only conceivable reason as to why and English medium school could lose out to a Welsh medium.

      It constantly surprises me the popularity of Welsh medium education in Cardiff, and of course I’m very encouraged, but like many I am keenly aware of an apparent disconnect; what is going to happen to the Welsh language skills of all these people who are products of Welsh medium education, where to all intents and purposes, the world of work and everyday life is pretty much exclusively English. Isn’t it also about time that we started thiking in terms of changing the administrative language of the public sector to Welsh, gradually over say, perhaps a generation? That would provide context, and at the same time give Welsh a definite economic value, which is of key importance.

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