Wales/Cymru - Housing report highlights need for Government action
CelticNews | June 5, 2008 at 12:53 pmby
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A report on housing in rural Wales has said that unless changes occur
in Government policy there will be a generation gap in some areas
of the Welsh countryside as an increasing number of young people are
forced to move from their communities.
The eight month long study, published this week by the charity The
Joseph Rowntree Trust and titled 'JRF Commission on Rural Housing
in Wales' highlights the need for the Welsh Assembly Government to
do more to keep young people in the countryside, by providing for
their housing needs. The report covered a number of key areas of concern,
including supply of affordable homes, vacant properties, impact of
second homes and the role of local authorities in helping to meet
The report showed that housing supply was more limited in rural than
in urban areas and that three times more properties were needed in
rural Wales than existing numbers. The report also said that the Welsh
Government plan to build 6500 affordable homes across Wales by 2011
was "ambitious", but questioned whether this would be enough.
Another issue covered in the report was vacant properties and second
homes. The report recommended that councils in Wales should do more
to bring vacant properties in rural areas back into use, which accounted
for 4.3% of total rural housing stock in 2001 (about 18000 vacant
properties). The Commission advised that the Welsh Government should
promote good practise in bringing vacant properties back into use.
The Commission also touched upon the impact that housing pressures
in rural communities was having on the Welsh language and culture.
However, it was argued that the Commission was not in a position to
offer evidence to suggest that housing problems in rural areas were
directly impacting on Welsh culture and language, but noted that:
"...housing pressures, especially in traditional Welsh speaking areas
in coastal areas where the impact of second homes has been greatest,
have impacted on the Welsh language and traditional culture in a negative
The Commission recommended that local authorities needed to "control
the conversion of properties into second homes in areas of housing
pressure" and that it was "far from clear" how the increased revenue
from charging the full Council Tax rate on second homes was being
spent by councils. The report went on to say that the extra revenue
from the Council Tax could play a significant role in meeting housing
needs in rural areas and "should be used by local authorities for
affordable housing purposes."
However, as highlighted in Cornwall, simply building a vast amount
of houses in rural areas is not the answer, but needs to be done in
a sustainable way, which was the message from Jocelyn Davies, the
Deputy Minister for housing in Wales. Davies said that she shared
the concerns of the commission of "pursuing a range of initiatives
aimed at helping rural communities to meet their local housing need".
It is nevertheless clear from the Report that the Welsh Government
is not doing enough to help curb the housing crisis currently developing
in rural Wales, especially in traditional Welsh speaking areas.
The General Secretary of the League has written to Jane Davidson,
the Welsh Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing,
to make comment on the Commissions' report and the full text of which
can be found below:
Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing
Dear Minister Jane Davidson
JRT Commission on Rural Housing in Wales
The Celtic League welcomes the publication of the above report, which,
as you will be aware, highlights a number of key areas that the Welsh
Assembly Government/Senedd could profitably pursue.
One issue that the Commission touched upon, but commented that it
was not in a position
to offer evidence on, was the affect that rural housing problems in
Wales have on the Welsh language and culture. The Commission did say
" it would appear that housing pressures, especially in traditional
Welsh speaking areas in coastal areas where the impact of second homes
has been greatest, have impacted on the Welsh language and traditional
culture in a negative way."
The Celtic League believes that this is an area that the Welsh Assembly/Senedd
could further investigate, in order to assess the impact of rural
housing problems on the Welsh language and culture. Such a study would
provide invaluable evidence for the case of protecting the housing
stock in traditional Welsh speaking rural communities, especially
in those areas that are particularly vulnerable to housing pressures.
We would appreciate hearing your views on the above.
Related articles on Celtic News at:
J B Moffatt
Director of Information
The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works
to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a
broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights
human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on
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