Plaid’s Llyr Huws Gruffydd has launched a devastating critique of the methods used to assess the impact of the massive house building proposals for Bodelwyddan in Denbighshire. He has received strong backing from Euro MP Jill Evans.
Serious questions were raised at a public meeting held last week (Monday 17 January) to discuss proposals for the programme.
The main focus of the meeting was to consider Denbighshire County Council’s draft assessment of the community and linguistic impact of the proposed development. The draft document entitled “Community & Linguistic Assessment - Bodelwyddan Strategic Site” answers a checklist of 12 questions and concludes that the proposed development will have 8 Positive, 3 Negative and 1 Neutral impact on the local community. As it stands, it therefore gives the 'green light' to the proposed development.
Addressing the meeting Plaid Cymru Assembly candidate for the North Wales Region Llyr Huws Gruffydd said:
“Whilst I welcome the council’s decision to undertake such an assessment, in my view, the content and methodology of the draft report is questionable. It lacks statistical support, is often anecdotal and shows little evidence of specialist input about linguistic and other policy areas.
“For example, one question asks if the development will lead to or heighten the fear of crime in Bodelwyddan. It says current levels locally are average for the north, then concludes that "there is no reason why this should change". There is no comparative or statistical examination of the effects of increased urbanisation or the size of communities or the effects of rapid migration on crime trends. Nor does the answer refer to any policing plan.
“Another question asks if the development is likely to have an impact on local businesses and local job opportunities. Yet the answer doesn’t refer to any professional studies dealing with the topic nor is a single statistic used in its support.
“These apparently unsubstantiated, not to say opinionated, responses are endemic throughout the report. They should be challenged when the final version - which may be different from the draft - is published on 26th January.”
Plaid MEP Jill Evans has also raised major questions about the proposals and the process undertaken by Denbighshire County Council. In a message conveyed from her to the meeting she said:
“Good quality agricultural land has been reclassified as indifferent quality. This allows houses to be built on the land – a remarkable action, and very much prejudicial in favour of the council's proposals.
“Indeed, the community objects both to the decision itself and the secretive process by which it was taken. The government report has not been made public so that it can be verified, nor is the decision subject to appeal.”
Following representations, Jill Evans MEP has personally taken up both issues with Elin Jones AM, the Rural Affairs Minister.
Llyr Huws Gruffydd added:
“We also have major concerns about the lack of proper public consultation on the county's proposals. Plaid Cymru is raising the matter with the European Parliament's Petitions Committee.
“If the committee agrees that there’s an initial case to answer, the petition will be passed to the European Commission who will investigate in detail whether or not Denbighshire County Council has broken EU laws on public consultation and environmental protection.”
“We also reject the assessment of housing need in the north east of Wales which is driving this excessive new house building programme and the proposals for Bodelwyddan.
“We believe local demand is much lower and the figures they issue to county councils should be reduced. It’s also time that existing empty properties can be included within the housing need assessment. This would help reduce the pressure for building new houses, taking some of the pressure off areas such as Bodelwyddan.”