The National Development Framework 2020-2040 is expected to be published this summer. This document will set the direction for town and country planning throughout Wales, and according to Dyfodol i’r Iaith, it will have a significant implications for the Welsh language.
Wyn Thomas, a member of Dyfodol’s Board said:
“This Framework will provide a blueprint for planning over the Welsh Language Strategy’s timetable, and so one would expect it to make a positive contribution towards the Government’s aim of creating a million Welsh speakers. Unfortunately, the document in its present form misses several opportunities to do this.
The Framework gives no special consideration to Welsh-speaking areas and communities for example, and unlike the environment, the language has no Statutory Consultee to defend it. We believe that the Welsh Language Commissioner should be supported and enabled to take on this important and highly specialised duty.
As the Senedd discusses the Framework over the coming months, we are concerned that this lack of protection and expertise will undermine the consideration given to the Welsh language and the opportunity to safeguard its future within the planning system. It does not bode well that that the Housing and Local Government Minister is unwilling to discuss our concerns.
We fear that the detailed scrutiny that is necessary in relation to the language implications of the Framework will fall upon a very small number of committed Assembly Members. The relationship between town and country planning and the Welsh language is far to important to be overlooked – it is a significant issue for the whole nation.
Dyfodol have written to all the Assembly Members to draw attention to this and raise awareness of the basic principle of a planning system which supports the Government’s own committment to the Welsh language.”
Dyfodol i’r Iaith is convinced that the proposed National Planning Framework can make a key contribution to the Welsh Government’s laudable aim of creating a million Welsh speakers by 2050.
We welcome specific aspects of the draft document, such as the emphasis on affordable housing, the cautious development of rural areas and the central importance of the Well-being of Future Generations Act. We are also satisfied to note that the responsibility for Welsh Language impact assessments now rests with the Local Authorities.
The Overview and point 4 within the Results section are promising in that they acknowledge the importance of the Welsh language to Planning process. However, the language receives no mention as part of the checklist of considerations for Strategic Planning Schemes.
Dyfodol i’r Iaith therefore calls upon the Welsh Government to ensure that the following considerations are included in the final version of the National Planning Framework, so that flourishing Welsh-language communities continue to survive in 2050: –
- The allocation of a western Region, which includes all counties containing communities where more than 25% of the population speak Welsh. A number pf County Councils have designated a baseline of 25% Welsh speakers as communities where the effects of house building needs to be assessed. Dyfodol i’r Iaith wants this principle in relation to such communities to be an integral part of the National Development Framework.
- Revise all levels of the Planning system, ensuring that the Welsh Government works in equal partnership with the Local Authorities. Each Local Authority with communities of 25% Welsh speakers or above should, in turn, work with Community Councils and local Mentrau Iaith in deciding what developments would be suitable for these areas.
- In each community with more that 25% of Welsh speakers, consideration should be given to the following:
[a] the number of empty houses
[b] birth and death rates over the previous decade
[c] the in and out migration patterns over the previous decade when allocating, within Local Development Plans, the number and location of homes to be built.
- We would also call for the Welsh Language Commissioner to be given the same Statutory Consultee status as other environmental and sustainability organisations to protect and promote the Welsh language. This extra responsibility would, of course, entail developing the expertise within the Commissioner’s office.
- Finally, we would wish to see The National Development Framework adopt the key principle of prioritising the effect of “land use “on local inhabitants and the Welsh language to support the aims of the Welsh Government.
Thank you to everyone who made this such a memorable Eisteddfod for us: to those who contributed to our presentations and talks, those who provided entertainment or who simply came over for a chat and to discuss our work with us.
We delivered two presentations from the stage of Pabell y Cymdeithasau, including a timely and positive discussion on the contribution of local government to the strategy of Cymraeg 2050. We believe that it is both practical and necessary for the local authorities in the Welshest areas (Anglesey, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, as well as Gwynedd) to adopt Welsh as its internal administrative medium. Dyfrig Siencyn from Gwynedd and Peter Hughes-Griffiths from Carmarthenshire discussed the challenge and reality of achieving this, with Gwerfyl Pierce Jones chairing the meeting.
Cynog Dafis and Dr Kathryn Jones of Iaith Cyf. outlined the importance of Language Planning and robust, appropriate management structures if we are to formulate a comprehensive strategy which will produce the right circumstances and goodwill to allow growth for the language. This is the cornerstone of our approach, and we hope that this presentation will provide a basis for further discussion. It was good to note that this was being discussed within the context of positive developments, such as the Welsh Minister’s recent statement that language expertise will be called upon as the next steps are being planned for the regeneration of the language.
We welcomed a range of experts to share their thoughts and experiences with visitors to our stall. Gareth Pierce discussed education needs; Owen Evans, Chief Executive of S4C, outlined the future of the channel; and Simon Brooks and Wyn Thomas introduced the problems facing the Welsh language in the context of the planning system.
Following all the discussion, it was pleasant to relax and enjoy the programme of mid-afternoon entertainment which we’d arranged again this year. Thank you to all the fantastic musicians who brought us such joy during the week!