[lg policy] Welsh language at risk from 'lifestyle refugees flooding into its heartlands'

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 13 13:53:01 UTC 2013

   - By Rachael
   - 8 Comments<http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/welsh-language-risk-lifestyle-refugees-4306224#comments>

 Welsh language at risk from 'lifestyle refugees flooding into its
heartlands'  12 Jun 2013 17:10

Large new housing developments catering for commuters, retirees and
'lifestyle refugees' are putting the future of the language at risk, a
council meeting has been told


‘Lifestyle refugees’ leaving cities for the countryside are threatening the
Welsh language in more rural communities, it has been claimed.

Large new estates for retirees and commuters were also said to be having a
negative impact on the language.

It was also claimed that tough new planning policies were needed to protect
the language in its heartlands.

Census figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in
December showed an overall drop of 2% in the number of people who speak
Welsh to 19% of the population.

It also suggested Welsh was now a minority language in two counties which
are still considered among its heartlands, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

Those concerned for the future of Welsh believe oversized developments in
or near small communities are rapidly eroding the language.

At a meeting of Carmarthenshire council,  Plaid Cymru councillor Alun Lenny
put forward a motion to call on the Welsh Government to set up a statutory
agency to assess the effect housing developments have on the language in
order to advise planners.

It follows approval of plans to build almost 300 houses at Penybanc, near
Ammanford, despite opposition by language campaigners and residents. Other
large developments are also in the pipeline, and several have been built in
recent years.

Mr Lenny said current policies are “nothing more than froth”.

“The Carmarthenshire UDP [Unitary Development Plan] states clearly that it
is ‘this council’s policy to resist developments that would have an adverse
affect on the long-term vitality of the Welsh language and culture’.

“The LDP [Local Development Plan] strategic policy also states a need for
the ‘regard to the needs of the interests of the Welsh language. While the
proposed development is located within a linguistic sensitive area, the
applicant may be requested to submit a linguistic impact statement’.”

The planning committee member  said current policies cause frustration for
the committee who don’t know how much to attention should be given to the
Welsh language.

Questioning who should define an area as “linguistically sensitive”, he
said the practicality of asking a developer to prepare a statement on the
linguistic impact is like “asking the fox to look after the geese”.

Llanelli councillor Sian Caiach said mistakes had already been made and the
council had “sold out” the Welsh language.

She referred to the impact of a  400-house development near Ffos Las race
course on neighbouring Carway.

She said the council was persuaded to add 200 houses to that development.

“We are suddenly putting in more people than are in the existing village,”
she said.

“Looking back on it,  we sold out the Welsh language in doing that and we
have to think it is not just about the money, it is about culture and we
have got to get a way of keeping this language alive.

“It’s fine to have a ‘retropectoscope’ but I think that perhaps we should
have thought that with our big planning policies for building large
attractive estates for retirees, commuters and lifestyle refugees from the
cities and people who like second homes for weekends [while] not [building]
a large number for first time buyers.

“These people are likely to come from outside the county and likely to not
speak Welsh.”

But while all councillors spoke in favour of protecting the Welsh language,
some insisted that the council should wait for the conclusions of its own
cross-party task and finish group on the Welsh language before
representations are made to Welsh Government.

Councillor Ceri Thomas suggested other cultural changes  have a more
detrimental impact than planning issues.

He backed  an amendment, which was approved, calling for the task and
finish group to deliberate and make recommendations as to what
representations should be made to the Welsh Government.

“We have set up a select committee of the great and the good to look at why
the language has deteriorated,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s very hard to understand why, when we have 82 television
stations through the medium of English and then you look at S4C.”

Carmarthenshire council's head of planning Eifion Bowen said: “As part of
UDP deliberations, approved by a planning inspector, sites that have been
allocated as suitable for housing were subject to various tests and
considerations, one of these being impact on the Welsh language.

“For the site to have been allocated, it would have been deemed that the
impact upon the Welsh language would be acceptable to allow the
consideration of the site as one allocated for housing development.”

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: "Iaith Byw makes a commitment to
finalise the review of planning policy and associated technical advice on
the Welsh language and this is reflected in the Welsh Language Strategy
Action Plan for 2013-14. A revised version of TAN 20 will be published in
due course."


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