PLANNING THE REGENERATION OF THE WELSH LANGUAGE CONSULTATION DISCUSSION POINT 6: DEMOGRAPHY AND PLANNING

The latest discussion point of our consultation on Planning the Regeneration of the Welsh Language is the demography of language and planning to support its growth.

As before, we would be very grateful to receive your comments, suggestions and any practical experience you may have. You are welcome to use the questions and template below or send your comments in any other format that suits you.

Below is a summary of Dyfodol’s demands in relation to demography and planning. If you would like to read the full text of Planning the Regeneration of the Welsh Language, a copy is available on our website, dyfodol.net

Thank you to everyone who has already contributed to our discussion. We look forward to hearing from you – do get in touch:

[email protected]

or telephone 01248 811798

 DISCUSSION POINT 6: DEMOGRAPHY AND TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING

 Dyfodol believes that:

Demography is the relationship between people and territory. The term is used here to cover several aspects – economy, housing, land use, town and country planning etc. – in relation to the Welsh language. This section is concerned with areas where the Welsh language is the normal medium of communication, mainly located in the west but including many other areas too. This is a complex and challenging field.

The linking of the western areas together as a region, Arfor, has been proposed so as to address their economic weaknesses and the haemorrhaging of young (often Welsh-speaking) talent from the area – one of the main contributors to the decline of the language. The Welsh Government have embraced the concept. Our view is that this vision should be developed as a key component in the general strategy for developing Wales as a confident and successful nation. The intention would be for the Arfor region to offer diverse and exciting career opportunities and encouragement for innovation and enterprise, so that young people can create their own futures within this region, by staying, returning or moving into the area. Tied to this would be the intention of protecting and strengthening the Welsh-speaking community and communities.

Town and country planning and housing policy would reflect and empower the needs of the region and its communities rather than serving the interests of powerful commercial developers and the current drive towards damaging and insensitive over-provision.   

 DO YOU AGREE WITH US? HAVE YOU ANY FURTHER COMMENTS ON DEMOGRAPHY AND / OR PLANNING MATTERS?

 

A CALL FOR A NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMWORK WHICH CONTRIBUTES THE SUCCESS OF THE WELSH LANGUAGE

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.”

THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK:

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.