Call for new planning act to tackle ‘crisis’ faced by young trying to buy homes in their communities
A Welsh language lobbying group is calling for a new planning act for Wales to tackle a housing “crisis” that has left young people unable to buy houses in the communities where they grew up.
Dyfodol i’r Iaith said that such a planning act should cap the percentage of holiday homes and second homes in local areas, and give local councils the power to control the housing stock in their areas.
The act would also make it necessary to obtain consent before converting a home into a second or holiday home, they said.
Wyn Thomas, a member of the board of Dyfodol i’r Iaith, said that house prices in the United Kingdom were generally the highest compared to wages in Europe, and that the situation was particularly acute in the Welsh-speaking areas, where the average pay is relatively low.
“The homes of our Welsh-speaking areas are at the mercy of the open market, with almost a half of the housing stock in specific areas used as holiday homes or second homes,” he said.
“The linguistic impact surveys on new housing schemes are wholly inadequate.
“Before a new act is put in place, there should be a transformational investment in the Homebuy Scheme, which is an initiative of the Welsh Government, so that young people can remain in their community.”
Last week campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith criticised a Welsh Government’s statement on the matter of second homes that they said “did not go far enough” in tackling the second homes crisis.
The Housing Minister, Julie James, announced today that the Government would conduct further research into the issue and is “currently exploring the potential for a statutory registration scheme for all holiday accommodation”.
“We are acutely aware of growing concern in some parts of Wales about the impact of second homes on communities, access to housing and affordability and the impact this has on the Welsh language,” she said.
“Whilst not a pan-Wales issue, it is one that is affecting communities and provokes strong feeling at local or hyper-local levels.
“We have already made a series of short and medium-term improvements to both the council tax and non-domestic rates systems and we have set out our ambitions to explore more fundamental reforms over the longer term. We do not rule out further legislative changes but only with a full understanding of their potential impact.”
Mabli Siriol, chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, said that she was glad that the government had finally responded to calls to give Local Authorities the powers needed to control the housing market in Wales.
“Unfortunately, the statement lacks substance and fails to commit to introducing any meaningful and urgent measures to tackle the housing crisis; what we need is for the Government to take action now, rather than conduct further endless discussions,” she said.
“The Government decided to increase Land Transaction Tax on second homes back in Decemeber following campaigning by Cymdeithas yr Iaith and others. We welcomed this at the time, while also expressing our disappointment at the fact that this was only a tiny increase of 1%.
“The Government has shown through its lack of meaningful action that it is unaware of the real scale of the crisis – its decision to release a written statement, rather than an oral statement that Members of the Senedd are able to scrutinise on the floor of the Senedd, further highlights this.
“Thanks to pressure from the people of Wales, the First Minister Mark has already committed to introducing legislation to tackle the housing crisis in the next Senedd term if he remains First Minister after the election. Only by introducing a Property Act can we truly tackle the current crisis and ensure that the housing market works in the interest of communities, not capitalism.
“To this end, we will hold a rally nine days after the election at the site of the Tryweryn dam in order to put pressure on the new government, whichever its composition, to act.”