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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 13:29 GMT
Park to ban new holiday homes
Stream in Snowdonia
Many visitors want to move to Snowdonia permanently
A national park in north Wales is set to introduce controls to stop the building of new holiday homes within its boundaries.

The Snowdonia National Park Authority will follow its counterpart in Pembrokeshire, which put a ban in place in January.

Pembrokeshire Coast
Restrictions are already in place in Pembrokeshire

Planners there said applications for new homes would only be considered if there was a proven local need or the applicant had strong links with the area.

The proposal backed by Snowdonia's planning committee on Wednesday will be submitted to a full meeting of the authority for a final decision.

The idea is intended to halt the number of holiday and retirement homes, as well as speculative building.

Exmoor National Park in Devon sparked off a debate when it suggested such a measure in September 2001, although the issue of holiday homes has been controversial in Wales for decades.

Many residents and authorities in popular tourist destinations have expressed concern about the need to maintain "balanced communities".

Snowdonia National Park sign
The park authority handles planning issues

They claim that shops, businesses, and community life all suffer in areas where much of the local housing stock remains empty for long periods of time.

In Welsh-speaking communities, there is an additional fear about the survival of the language if the newcomers only speak English.

Others believe that the unchecked building of holiday homes helps fuel a market which puts houses out of the reach of local people.

Merfyn Williams, an estate agent working in Snowdonia, said a similar idea had been tried in Anglesey about ten years ago.

"(It's) a good idea in general terms in that it provides affordable housing for young first time buyers.

Estate agent Merfyn Williams
Estate agent Merfyn Williams says there are pros and cons

"The problem is that we are dealing with people here, and when they want to sell, they'll want the best price."

In January, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority in west Wales introduced a ban on the construction of new homes within its boundaries.

Members may approve applications in cases of local need or an applicant with local links.

However, Peter Ogden, the Snowdonia park authority's policy manager, has recommended that members do not adopt a similar policy.

He told the meeting on Wednesday there was "no proof" that local people were being priced out of the housing market in Snowdonia.

Ben Gregory, Welsh language society
"It gives a very clear signal about people taking the fate of the Welsh language seriously."
BBC Wales's Colette Hume
"You'll only be able to build a house here if there's a proven local need or if you have significant links with the area"
See also:

30 Jan 02 | Wales
MPs welcome holiday home ban
03 Dec 01 | Wales
House prices outpacing incomes
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