Planning for the Welsh language

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Fri Jan 25 15:55:32 UTC 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008
Planning for the Welsh language

The BBC report this morning that Ceredigion County Council have
criticised for granting planning applications from Welsh speakers
despite advice to reject them: It came after Ceredigion councillors
approved three applications against the advice of planners which were
later rejected by the assembly government.  The assembly government's
planning inspector said it was "discriminatory" to grant plans on a
language basis. But one planning committee member said it was trying
to protect communities.

The incident came to light when one of the three approved applications
was called in by the assembly government.  In a subsequent report,
planning inspector Ian Osborne said it would be "discriminatory" to
grant permission solely on the grounds the applicant was a Welsh
speaker. "Whilst the planning system should take account of the needs
and interest of the Welsh language, the fact that the applicant is a
local, Welsh-speaking person active in the community does not outweigh
the environmental harm," said Mr Osborne.
"Moreover it would be discriminatory to grant permission solely or
largely on the grounds that the applicant is Welsh-speaking."

Ceredigion Council's senior planning officer Aled Richards has warned
the council's planning committee that it could lose its planning
powers if it continued to take decisions that breached regulations.
"We have to take this very seriously," he added. "What's happening is
that time and time again we refer to the fact that the applicant is a
local Welsh speaker. We have to look at the application, not the
applicant." But Cllr Lyndon Lloyd who sits on the planning committee
said he disagreed with Mr Osborne's comments.

"We have assembly government ministers saying there should be policies
in rural areas that rely on positive discretion, and then we have
comments from Mr Osborne that seem so rigid," he explained. "All we're
trying to do is stand up for our young people and our communities.
There seems to be a lack of awareness of that in Cardiff from the
assembly's officials." Although the treatment of these applications by
Councillors appears to be rather perverse there may well be issues
that Ministers wish to look at. After all in the past Plaid Cymru have
made the linking of planning to the Welsh language a key issue in
their campaigning. No doubt their ministers will now want to consider
whether they want to revise planning policy guidance to meet the
objectives of those Councillors who supported these applications.
Interestingly, the One Wales document is silent on this issue.

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