“This is a key moment in our efforts to address the Welsh housing crisis facing our communities,” said Plaid Cymru Gwynedd Leader, Dyfrig Siencyn, “one which could have a fundamental impact on the ability of local people to buy, rent and live in their own homes within their own communities.”
The Plaid Cymru Gwynedd Leader was responding to today’s announcement by the Welsh Government Climate Change Minister, Julie James which sets out plans to intervene in the market in the Dwyfor area, as a pilot scheme, to support local people to live in their local communities and make changes to the planning regulations to manage better the local housing stock.
“We welcome the news that after years of lobbying by Plaid Cymru and months of on-going discussions with officials and ministers, the Welsh Government has confirmed that it will begin the process of consulting to amend the current planning regulation so that any individual seeking to change the use of a dwelling from a primary home to a second home, holiday home or short-term holiday let will need planning approval in the future.
“Now is the time for our communities to step up and respond to the Government’s consultation for introducing these separate planning use-classes for primary homes, second homes and holiday lets. Evidence will be key and will be gathered during the consultation process to determine whether the policy changes will move forward.”
The Welsh Government has also announced a £2m package for Cyngor Gwynedd to purchase empty homes within the county and bring them back into the housing stock for social rent. At least £1m must be spent within the Dwyfor pilot scheme area.
“This raft of measures will assist us in our efforts to house local people, to offer sustainable homes within vibrant communities and offer a practical helping hand to some of our villages and communities that are facing a social injustice plus a real threat to the viability of our Welsh culture and language.
“Plaid Cymru Gwynedd has worked hard in recent months to convey to the Welsh Government the real problems facing some of our coastal communities and villages as well as presenting practical solutions. We are grateful to Gwynedd officers, our fellow Plaid Cymru colleagues, local people together with local groups and organisations for their work in supporting our goals.
“The team effort will need to continue as we work with our communities, Cyngor Gwynedd and the Welsh Government to look at the finer details of its announcement and move forward to implementing this pilot scheme in earnest in the Dwyfor area.”
Under Plaid Cymru’s leadership in Gwynedd, an in-depth commissioned report on short term holiday lets and second homes in Gwynedd was published in December 2020 showing the need to follow Scotland’s plans to offer local authority the powers to regulate short term holiday lets.
Gwynedd’s £77million Housing Action Plan was announced at the end of 2020 to support local communities with a raft of measures and housing support packages. And from April 2021 Plaid-led Cyngor Gwynedd introduced a 100% premium on council tax for second homes to support some of the housing action plan’s measures.
“Our focus has and will continue to be on supporting local communities. Gwynedd housing plays a fundamental role in that work,” said Councillor Dyfrig Siencyn.
Responding to the WG news, former Plaid Cymru MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Elfyn Llwyd, said: “The Welsh Government's announcement is to be welcomed as a positive step forward. I raised the issue of needing planning permission to convert a property from full time occupation to a holiday accommodation over twenty years ago in Westminster. Better late than never!
“I hope that as many people as possible will take part in the consultation process to illustrate how great the housing crisis is at the moment.”
Plaid Cymru Senedd Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Mabon ap Gwynfor (pictured), said: This has been a long journey for many people, so the fact that we are seeing concrete steps here today to tackle this question of second homes and housing affordability in some of our communities is to be welcomed.
“We must acknowledge the role of Gwynedd Council and Plaid Cymru in leading the Council, as they have already done so much of the work around this issue and thank them for their guidance.
“The challenge is huge, but with the political appetite, vision, strong policies, and sufficient financial resources to achieve our goals, there is still hope for a better future for Welsh communities.”