Language campaigners scale Wales’ peaks to protest as house prices reach highest ever
Language campaigners have scaled Wales’ highest peaks to protest as it was reported that house prices have reached their highest-ever level in Wales.
Figures published today show that Wales has seen the biggest increase in house prices in the UK.
Rightmove said there had been a 2.3% rise in the past month alone and a 10.9% increase year-on-year. The Principality Building Society reported that the average price in Wales had now hit a new peak of £215,810.
Today campaigners from Cymdeithas yr Iaith placed a banner with the words Nid yw Cymru ar Werth (Wales is not for Sale) on Crib Goch, Snowdon, Carningli mountain near Newport in Pembrokeshire and Penyfan, the highest mountain in the south.
“Our Welsh speaking communities are at risk because the open housing market is preventing young people from finding homes in their communities,” Osian Jones, who climbed Snowdon, said.
“Following the rally in Tryweryn, we will be holding a further rally in on Parrog beach in Newport on October 23rd, before taking our call to Government by holding a rally on the steps of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on November 13th.
“We expect urgent and radical action from the Welsh Government to enable Local Authorities to manage the housing market.”
Cymdeithas yr Iaith is calling for a Property Act that will:
- Give community control over the housing market and planning process
- Change the definition of affordable housing
- Control the price of buing a house and renting
- Put a cap on the number of second and holiday homes in any one community
Plaid Cymru’s housing spokesperson Mabon ap Gwynfor also reacted to the highest ever house prices in Wales, saying it was “further proof that Wales is in the middle of a housing crisis”.
“Wales has seen a 2.3% rise in house prices in the past month alone and a 10.9% increase year-on-year overall. People are being priced out of their communities at an alarming pace,” he said.
“And it’s not just rural and coastal Wales. It’s the valleys too. Median gross weekly earnings in Torfaen, for example, is just £554.58 but has seen one of the highest sale rates at 80%.
“Meanwhile, young people are expected to place thousands of pounds in down payments just to stand a chance of purchasing their first home in their local community. It’s unrealistic, unfair, and utterly unsustainable.
“The housing market simply doesn’t reflect the ability of local people to buy homes in their communities. The Government can no longer bury their heads in the sand or hide being long drawn out ‘consultations’ or ‘pilot schemes’.
“We need urgent intervention – fast – to regulate the market and tackle this crisis once and for all, for the sake of our communities and their futures.”
Last month the Welsh Government unveiled its plan to tackle the second homes crisis, which is blamed for driving up prices and making communities in many rural areas unaffordable.
It will include setting up a pilot area in Wales – to be decided over the summer – where new measures will be trialled before a wider rollout.
The Welsh Government’s three-pronged approach will focus on:
- Support addressing the affordability and availability of housing;
- The introduction of a statutory registration scheme for holiday accommodation;
- Using national and local taxation systems to ensure second home owners make a fair and effective contribution to the communities in which they buy.
Minister Julie James said at the time that the continuing rise of house prices meant that people, especially younger generations, could no longer afford to live in the communities they had grown up in.
“A high concentration of second homes or holiday lets can have a very detrimental impact on small communities, and in some areas could compromise the Welsh language being spoken at a community level,” she said.
“We have already taken strides on some of these issues – last year we became the only nation in the UK to give local authorities the power to introduce a 100% council tax levy on second homes.
“But the urgency and gravity of this situation calls for further intervention, which means real and ambitious actions are delivered at pace, to inject fairness back into the housing system.
“Taking recommendations from Dr [Simon] Brooks’ report, our new three-pronged approach will kick-start a summer of action which will determine how we tackle this issue now and into the future.
“I am calling on all political parties across the Senedd to get involved in this, as we look to empower our communities to exercise their right to live in good quality homes, wherever they are in Wales.”