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Inspector rejects development in part over impact on Welsh language in community

A housing development has been rejected by a planning inspector partly because those expected to buy the homes would be unlikely to speak Welsh.

The application to build six detached homes at Morfa Nefyn was rejected by Gwynedd Council and again by the inspector on appeal.

A Gwynedd spokesperson said the council’s objections included that it thought the development could cause significant harm to the character and balance of the Welsh language in the community and was therefore contrary to a local plan policy.

The council also rejected it on grounds of failure to meet local housing need with an over-provision of open market housing, that no sufficient reason was provided why an affordable unit could not be included and issues with the access road.

Planning inspector Vicki Hirst said in her decision notice that the council considered that if the purchase price of the homes was beyond the reach of the local population and if built they “would be more likely to lead to immigration from wider areas with a possible effect on the Welsh language”.

Morfa Nefyn is 72% Welsh speaking, but Ms Hirst noted: “It is apparent from the evidence that the percentage of Welsh speakers in the village had already declined over the 10 years between 2001 and 2011.

“The Welsh language statement finds this to be the likely result of demographic changes including a reduction in the number of children, an increase in older people, migration and a difference in skills.”

Ms Hirst said the threshold for the viability of the Welsh language was 70% of a local population according to the council and “any further decline has the potential to impact on the viability of the Welsh language in the village and thus the community’s character”.

She found the provision of housing in Morfa Nefyn between 2011-20 already considerably exceeded the indicative figure of 15 homes in the local plan by some 25 units.

“I note from the plans that the dwellings are of generous sizes and exceed the basic requirements of a family home, including substantial areas of glazing, balconies, and integral garages,” she said.

“Whilst I note the appellant’s local marketing intentions, it has failed to respond to the council’s concerns in relation to the ability of those in local need to be able to financially access the specific proposed houses.”

She also criticised the failure to include any affordable homes and the access route issues.

Mark Smulian