Company reject claim plan to build 401 houses ‘about making profit’

By Julie McNicholls Vale   |   Deputy news editor   |
Wednesday 13th July 2022 11:12 am
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Cllr Dewi Owen, Liz Saville Roberts MP, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS, Cllr Brian Kelly and Cllr Catrin O’Neill
Cllr Dewi Owen, Liz Saville Roberts MP, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS, Cllr Brian Kelly and Cllr Catrin O’Neill (Plaid Cymru )

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A company hoping to build 401 houses in Aberdyfi has rejected claims that the scheme ‘is about making profit’.

Hillside Park Ltd responded to the claim made by Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville Roberts and MS Mabon ap Gwynfor. The politicians reinforced their opposition to plans to build the executive houses, a move fiercely opposed by the local community, by holding a meeting in the village with local councillors.

The historic planning application which dates back to the 1960s, has been revived by investment firm Hillside Park Ltd who have already had their proposals rejected by the High Court and Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court is expected to give a final ruling in the autumn.

Liz Saville Roberts MP and Mabon ap Gwynfor MS said: “We were glad of the opportunity to meet with town and county councillors in Aberdyfi to reaffirm our collective opposition to this wholly unsuitable scheme which would bring absolutely no benefit whatsoever to the local community.

“Local residents have made it abundantly clear that they don’t want to see the hillside above Aberdyfi disappearing under bricks and mortar simply to satisfy the greedy pockets of unscrupulous developers.

“What we need in Aberdyfi and in other areas of Dwyfor Meirionnydd is more social housing to meet the specific needs of our communities. There is nothing in this development which fulfils local demand – these houses are not planned with local people in mind.

“This proposal actively works against the interests of the local community. The houses have been earmarked as open market properties that families in the area simply won’t be able to afford.

“This development will only pile more pressure on existing services, particularly health, education and transport, to meet additional demand whilst the utilities infrastructure in Aberdyfi would collapse if these houses were permitted.

“Having had successive appeals thrown out at both the High Court and Court of Appeal and with no demand from the local community for this proposal, one has to question the real motives behind the developer’s persistence in pursuing this case to the Supreme Court.

“Are they hedging their bets by playing legalistic games at the expense of the public purse by monetizing lapsed planning applications?

“One thing is certain, there is collective opposition to this proposal - it is all about making profit rather than meeting local need and it will be local residents and the surrounding environment that will pay the price if this application isn’t quashed.”

Hillside Parks Ltd released a statement saying: “Planning permission was obtained for 401 houses on the land at Balkan Hill in Aberdyfi in 1967. Though only a small number of houses have been built as a result, it was, until recently, common ground with Snowdonia National Park Authority that that planning permission remained valid, and development continued.

“We have worked with the park authority to improve the scheme with discrete variations. It needs to be emphasised that each such variation was approved by the park authority, and that the park authority specifically confirmed that it was acceptable to proceed in this way. The complete recent U-turn by the park authority, where they threatened enforcement proceedings if any further works were carried out, was a surprising change of position and raises an important point of law, which is why the issue is now being determined by the Supreme Court.

“We have always emphasised our desire and willingness to work with the park authority to deliver the best possible scheme here, which despite these proceedings remains our position. We have always worked to enhance the environment and economy of Aberdyfi, and hope to continue to do so.”

In relation to the claims made by the MP and the MS they added: “It is totally wrong to characterise this development as being ‘all about profit’. The scheme was in fact brought forward by celebrated architect John Madin, with the planning authority’s support, to prevent unsympathetic development in Aberdyfi. That is why it has been trickled out over the years: and every refinement of it over the years has been done with the full knowledge and cooperation of the national park planning authority.

“Amongst other things the development uses local labour and suppliers, and provides local employment, it adds to local housing supply (therefore reducing competition for houses) and of course brings in council tax, which if the local authority chose could be used to provide for social housing. It is regrettable that not one of the detractors has made any effort to acquaint themselves with these facts. In short, this is a great project, sensitively handled, delivering multiple benefits.”

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