“From my experience LDPs are designed to favour landowners and developers and not our communities.”
Those were the damning words of the councillor tasked with developing Denbighshire Council’s previous Local Development Plan.
Councillor Eryl Williams spoke out as Denbighshire Council was preparing its four-year review of their Local Development Plan.
Cllr Williams said, “The current LDP went against the wishes of Denbighshire Council and was effectively forced on us the by the Welsh Government. The question that must be asked is: who is driving the LDP? Is it the Council or the Welsh Government? Experience shows that it’s the Government’s Planning Inspectorate who’s in control.”
Every county council in Wales is expected to draw up a 15-year Local Development Plan for their area. Denbighshire’s 2006-2021 Plan allocated land for the development of 7,500 dwellings. That decision was based on population projection data provided by the Welsh Government, which insisted the council provided for an extra 1,000 homes to that originally agreed.
The Plaid Cymru group of councillors, which includes Cllr Williams, has stated that the Welsh Government is “inept and in the pockets of developers”, and called on Denbighshire Council to ensure that the needs of local communities come before those of developers as part of the review.
Plaid Cymru Group Leader Councillor Arwel Roberts, said, “There was a massive outcry against plans to allow 7,500 dwellings to be built in Denbighshire. The figure was largely based on the Welsh Government’s population projections.
“The Welsh Government’s 2006 Household Projections were calling for an average of 653 new dwellings a year up to 2021, yet these were based on migration trends of the previous five years that were particularly high. Then in 2008 they released figures showing a need for 540 new dwellings a year.
“We were eventually given a target of 500 per year, though the average housing completions for 1998-2011 is only 267. This is a significant difference, and the Welsh Government has forced Denbighshire to allocate land for far more housing than previously needed.
“On top of this we have a crisis in terms of affordability. The North East Wales Local Housing Market Assessment suggested that the 59% of all new dwellings should be affordable to meet local demand yet the Welsh Government forced the Council to accept a maximum of 10%."
The group criticised the flawed population projections of the Welsh Government after it was revealed that estimates of the county’s population had fallen in recent years. Welsh Government expected Denbighshire's population to increase by 9,450 between 2008 to 2023, from their based projection of 96,750 to 106,200, while in fact official statistics show that the population estimate for Denbighshire by mid 2016 stood at 94,805.
Councillor Glenn Swingler, of Upper Denbigh and Henllan, said, “It seems to me that the Welsh Government has ignored the wishes of democratically elected local representatives and pushed through a housing allocations policy that does not address community need. Instead it’s all about satisfying developers and landowners with no thought of the impact such large-scale housing developments would have on the fabric of our communities, on our infrastructure and public services.
"It's clear that the Welsh Government are inept and not working in the interests of our communities. As we review our current plan and start to prepare for the next one we must ensure that it is done with the interests of our communities at heart, and not those of large developers".