At Gwynedd’s full council meeting today, Plaid Cymru Councillors have again pressed for a change to the planning laws so that local houses remain within Gwynedd’s housing stock, as homes for local people.
Over recent weeks, there has been an increasing demand from Plaid Cymru Community and County Councillors, aswell as Members of the Senedd to press for change to Welsh Government legislation to make affordable homes available to local people living in Gwynedd and beyond.
The increasing pressures on communities as a result of the Covid19 pandemic have put more focus on the fact that communities in some areas of Wales are seeing a surge in people wanting to buy houses for occasional use as a second house or as a holiday unit.
It removes housing from the county’s stock, which has the potential to be homes for local people.
The Gwynedd Councillor who represents Nefyn residents, Gruffydd Williams said it is time to see change:
“I asked today for the full council's support to call on the Welsh Government to change legislation so that planning permission is required to convert a dwelling into a holiday home / holiday unit.
“In addition, I was keen to ask for the support of Councillors to press the Government to give us the right to adjust the policy framework to allow us to set a maximum threshold on the number of holiday homes / holiday units that exist in any area within Wales.
“I was keen to put a county-wide emphasis on the issue. Here locally in Nefyn, the Town Council has discussed the matter and sees the situation in this area as critical.
“It is having a negative impact on our residents, our homes, our villages and hamlets and on our language. The situation is creating change to the whole ethos of our Welsh rural coastal communities. We need to question the law and act to make change.”
The Councillor who has responsibility for housing in Gwynedd, Craig ab Iago, agrees that pressure needs to be put on legislative changes in Cardiff:
60% of Gwynedd's residents cannot afford to buy a house in the county, and a home at the current market in Gwynedd is out of local people’s reach.
In addition, 40% of the houses sold on the open market, approximately 900 of the 2250 Gwynedd houses sold by commercial companies on the open market annually, go to people from outside the county, as a second house.
"Having a home and a roof over your head is a core principle that, in my view, is not being met by rigid, outdated Labour Government policies in Cardiff and the Tory policies in Westminster. The housing development and planning system in Wales needs to be overhauled.”
Leading the debate in Nefyn is lawyer, Rhys Tudur, who is also a Nefyn Town Councillor.
“As a young professional, I see the crisis facing local people within the housing market and in my own community. That is why I put a motion to Nefyn Town Council asking to support measures that would prevent housing from going out of local people’s hands.
“Prices have gone through the roof, with a small two-bedroom house on the open market being sold for £240,000 in Morfa Nefyn. Prices of this kind are beyond the affordability of local people. We cannot compete.
“We need viable, progressive policies that provides fairness within the market for local people to compete for housing. With the average wage of Gwynedd residents at £16,000, the situation is critical. The open housing market is hindering local people and we are calling for legislative changes from the Welsh Government.
"I am delighted that Gwynedd Councillors have shown their support to this motion today."
Gwynedd Councillors passed the motion at a virtual council meeting today, Thursday, 1 October.