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Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 09:18 GMT 10:18 UK
Gwynedd considers holiday home curb
Snowdon, north Wales
The proposal aims to protect rural communities
A ban which prevents incomers from buying new homes in Snowdonia could be extended to cover the whole of a north Wales county.

Gwynedd Council has confirmed that a new development plan proposed by the authority states no new homes would be allowed unless there was local demand for property.

It is a question of preserving the character of local communities, whether Welsh-speaking or not

Dafydd Iwan, Head of Gwynedd Council Environment Board
The Snowdonia National Park Authority launched its own proposal in March 2001, after a similar scheme was unveiled by Pembrokeshire in January.

The plan would stop new homes being built outside of main towns unless there is local demand from people who have lived and worked in the area for 10 years or more.

Dafydd Iwan, head of Gwynedd Council's Environment Board, argued the ban was vital to keep local communities alive.

"We need more planning powers to try and protect the rights of local people to buy homes in their home communities," he said.

Although Mr Iwan admitted the plan would help threatened Welsh-speaking communities, he denied the plan was focused on language.

"It is a question of preserving the character of local communities, whether Welsh-speaking or not."

And he stressed that the problem of people buying houses from outside the area was felt in rural areas "throughout the UK and Europe".

"The Lake District and Exmoor and others have been operating this policy for years," he added.

Package of measures

However, the plan still has to be passed by the Welsh assembly and undergo public consultation before it becomes official policy.

Mr Iwan also commented that the move is only part of a package of measures to protect local communities, which also includes a 'Help to Buy' scheme for first-time buyers.

Snowdonia National Park sign
The proposal has not yet been introduced in Snowdonia
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".

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.

Residency qualification

When the housing proposal was launched in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, planners said it was intended to halt the number of holiday and retirement homes, as well as speculative building.

All future applications for new homes there will have to prove a need for residential accommodation for local people.

This will be based on either a three year residency qualification, family connections, previous residency or previous or current employment.

Although the policy has already been adopted by the national park, it will still be open for scrutiny as it is included in the draft Joint Unitary Development Plan drawn up with Pembrokeshire County Council.

The draft plan is due to be published for public consultation in the spring.

Dafydd Iwan, Gwynedd Council Environment Board Head
"Rural communities are under great pressure from people who buy houses from outside the area"
See also:

06 Mar 02 | Wales
Park to ban new holiday homes
30 Jan 02 | Wales
MPs welcome holiday home ban
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