Denbighshire County Council’s Independent/Conservative Cabinet will have to revisit plans to sell land near Denbigh, following intervention from one of the Council’s Scrutiny committees.
DCC Cabinet agreed at their Cabinet meeting on 22nd September to sell nearly 7 acres of land near Ysgol Pendref, Denbigh. However, Plaid Cymru Councillor for Upper Denbigh, Cllr. Glenn Swingler, and his Plaid Cymru colleagues used call-in powers to demand that the Council’s Community Scrutiny Committee scrutinise the decision.
Cllr. Swingler said: “The Cabinet were looking to sell publicly owned land to the highest bidder, so that they could develop nearly one hundred unaffordable houses and pocket the profits. This is clearly not in the interests of the community and is not what the community in Denbigh needs.
“The Council should either ensure that the land is available to build Council houses, or work with housing associations to ensure that houses are built to answer the needs. We must always put the needs of the community first.”
Cllr Rhys Thomas, Lower Denbigh, said: “The Cabinet seem to think that they can sell the land to a housing developer. Houses need to be suitable for the needs of the community, not for speculative developers to profit from. This is a publicly owned piece of land and should be used for public benefit, such as answering the community's housing needs."
Plaid Cymru have long campaigned against the overdevelopment of communities, and have called for housing to be developed in line with community needs and ensuring affordability.
Cllr Swingler added: “What became apparent was that there were other options available to consider. Instead of selling it as one plot, they could look at selling it in smaller parcels, which would allow local builders to develop houses, and helping those businesses. It would also allow social housing associations to buy smaller parcels to develop according to need. Our guiding prinicple should always be community benefit, not profit. I’m glad that the Communities Scrutiny Committee agreed and that the Cabinet will have to look at this decision again”.
The Communities scrutiny committee agreed that the Cabinet's decision to sell the land should not go ahead, and that the Cabinet should look at the decision again. The committee recommended they consider selling the land in smaller parcels to benefit local developers or housing associations, exploring whether or not the Welsh Government had grants to develop social housing, and delaying the decision for twelve months while these options were being investigated.