Change planning to turn buildings into homes

Monday 14th March 2022 2:04 pm
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MS Mabon ap Gwynfor and MP Liz Saville Roberts (N/a )

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THE MS for Dwyfor Meirionnydd is calling for a change in planning policy to allow rural buildings such as farm outbuildings to be developed into family homes.

Mabon ap Gwynfor made the call in response to several cases of local families being refused planning permission in his rural Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency.

Under current regulations, those who wish to change agricultural buildings or buildings outside of the planning boundaries into family homes must make a hefty financial contribution to the planning authority so that the planning authority can develop affordable housing units if they want planning permission. The value of the payment is based on half the cost of an equivalent affordable housing unit.

However, Mr ap Gwynfor argues that most local people can’t afford what he calls a ‘buy-out clause’, whilst wealthy individuals selling property at inflated prices elsewhere can easily afford to do so. Branding the policy as ‘perverse’. Mr ap Gwynfor said it was sound in theory but completely undermines local communities and families in practice.

His calls have been backed by Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville Roberts.

Mr ap Gwynfor MS said: “Planning policy needs to change without delay to allow local people to develop outbuildings and rural buildings as family homes.

“Local ownership clauses could be placed on these buildings to ensure that developers aren’t looking to make a quick buck.

“We have a situation at present where local people need to pay hefty sums of money to develop an outbuilding as a family home.

“In one case, a local family wants to develop an outbuilding on the family farm as a three-bed family home but need to pay £60,000 to the planning authority to do this.

“But if they wanted to turn it into a holiday let, they could do so with no delay and with minimal difficulty.

“Alternatively, wealthy individuals or developers could essentially buy their way out of this by paying the fee and then sell the new unit at an inflated price.

“Whilst the policy’s aim is to secure affordable homes for local people, the practical impact is perverse, and stops local people from developing purposeful buildings into family homes.

“This needs to change without delay, and I have written to the Welsh government asking them to allow planning authorities to bring in these changes as a matter of urgency.”

Mrs Saville Roberts MP added: “Without a change in policy, local people who want to develop agricultural buildings into family homes and maintain generational links with their community face the unenviable decision of either paying a hefty, often unattainable sum of money to comply with impractical planning regulations or give up on their dream of settling down in the communities which they were raised.

“We should be doing more to incentivise local people who have the means to rescue and turn rural buildings into family homes instead of putting up barriers to disincentivise local families from putting down roots in our rural communities.

“I echo calls for the Welsh government to take the necessary steps to grant planning authorities the right to bring in these changes without delay.”

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