Saturday, November 17, 2007

Caring for Rural Wales.

First time to be chairing Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales meetings today - in Carno Community Centre. Luckily, we just finished in time for me to get home to help bath Ffion. She just gets cuter by the day. I wish I could live my life again - and enjoy our own four a bit more than I did, before they stopped being babies! Anyway, I was very encouraged. Good meetings.

Many people look on CPRW as 'elderly, reactionary, nimbyist, single issue (anti wind farm)incomers.' This perception is wrong on all counts - except that the 'elderly' charge could, I suppose, be partly true. Almost all the informal conversation I had was in Welsh. Everyone was very keen to bring young people into the organisation. We talked a lot about the sort of housing policies we want to see - recognising that there is a real problem for local youngsters. We talked a lot about our vision, and I pluck one line out of the supported draft which sees Wales as a country where "The Character and identity of the landscapes and communities of rural Wales are diverse, distinctive, welcoming and valued." It seems to me to be a pragmatic forward thinking organisation which younger people would be able to identify with. So if you share our aims why not join us?


Anonymous said...

re: housing.

There has to be legislation allowing communities to place a condition on ALL new housing that it can only be rented or sold to those who meet local "qualifications" - birth, residency, family, schooling etc. This is similar to the approach taken by Jersey.

This should only be enabled at the national level - it could be up to local communities to decide what constitutes "qualifications".

I predict a dramatic drop in Nimbyism when people know who will benefit from the new housing

Montgomeryshire Witness said...

The problem with the current local housing needs criteria is that just about anyone can get through the loop, leaving the genuine young people in need of such property still struggling.

I agree that such a clause should be nationally agreed and then the local community council or a referendum could decide specific criteria.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - It is possible to put the 100% condition on 'exception sites'. Such a condition applies to every permission granted with a Section 106 limiting occupancy to some from of employment. I've always believed that this principle should be extended. What CPRW realise is that we need to have a discussion about what is a major issue for Rural Wales.

We can't really follow the Jersey example because most of the pressure on us comes from housing policy in England - and I would not want to discriminate in this way. The discrimination should be in favour of a 'local' person.

Anonymous said...

Not suggesting we follow Jersey exactly, but it's a useful model.

As witness says, too often people get through the loopholes. Also, as far as I’m aware, such things are decided at the unitary level (e.g. Gwynedd) but I think they should be decided at the community council level. Some communities might decide that they don’t mind who comes – e.g. if there aren’t many young’uns and the community is dying out. It should be up to the community to decide.

We have to recognise that communities are real entities, and in some sense land belongs to them as well as the land owner. We already recognise this in other areas e.g. pollution.

Glyn Davies said...

MW and anon - I don't agree with a decision making role being given to Community Councils over this - or at least I'd want to see how it was going to work before supporting the idea. There is a danger of things getting too parochial. I've been there and seen it.
I reckon the existing unitary level is about right - except in Powys, which is such a huge area, geographically. It should never have been made a local council. If there is a merger of Councils into 'regional' authorities, (which I believe to be very much on the agenda) things would have to change to properly recognise 'local' opinion.
I understand the principle behind the comments of both of you. The right way would be for Local Planning Authorities to be allowed more flexibility within the guidance issud by the National Assembly and for more attention to be paid to 'local councillor' opinion. And for communities to throw out councillors who don't take proper notice of community opinion.