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.