Denbighshire Local Development Plan

Apr 152014
 

At the risk of repeating myself . . . There is an issue I touched on in an earlier post that has been nagging at me to the point where I think it needs another post to elaborate and explore it better.

In my attempts to explain the machinations of the Planning Inspectorate I have often used the example of Denbighshire. Partly because I like (inland) Denbighshire and partly because it serves the purpose well. In particular, I drew attention to the anomaly of Denbighshire being told – by the Planning Inspectorate – to build 8,500 new housing units (some of which have already been built) between 2006 and 2021 despite the population being projected to increase by only a further 2,927 between 2014 and 2021.

In an earlier post, Bodelwyddan and the Bigger Picture, I drew attention to a Planning Inspectorate report of 2013 into Denbighshire’s Local Development Plan, and the report’s rejection of the county council’s very reasonable attempts to get the new housing figure reduced in line with the revised population projections. What the inspectors said can be found in part 4.8 of their report, reproduced in the panel.4.8 What I neglected to explain fully in the earlier post was what is meant by “the LDP’s objectives and aspirations”, which expose the absurdities behind forcing a Welsh local authority to plan for some four or five times the number of new housing units it actually needs. So what are the “objectives and aspirations” of the LDP?

In essence, the LDP argues that because Denbighshire has an ageing population it must remedy this by bringing in to the county a younger population. The Planning Inspectorate is therefore saying, ‘Because you attract so many elderly English people to Denbighshire you must improve the county’s age profile by attracting a younger English population’. This is the insane ‘aspiration’ of the LDP, this is the double whammy I refer to in the title.

Yet at the 2011 Census the percentage of the county’s population in the 65+ age bracket was just 21% (the figure for Wales is 18.4%). But only 42.7% of Denbighshire’s 65+ population was born in Wales. While the figure for the 0 – 49 age group was 67.8%, and well over 70% away from the coastal towns. So the 65+ figure for Denbighshire isn’t really high enough to justify the numbers of new dwellings being demanded by the Planning Inspectorate. Strengthening the suspicion that the county is being forced into allowing thousands of new dwellings, close to the A55, for commuters from Merseyside, Manchester and Cheshire. Nothing at all to do with correcting a generational imbalance, that is merely a pretext.

Using the Denbighshire argument the Planning Inspectorate could demand excessive numbers of new housing in any area with an above average percentage of the population in the 65+ age bracket. Which would mean Gwynedd SW Wards mergedjust about any rural area. This is clever, and naughty, considering that it was the Planning Inspectorate that very often insisted on the flats and retirement bungalows that attracted the retirees and the elderly in the first place. Making the Planning Inspectorate’s solution a bit like ‘treating’ a hangover by getting drunk again and repeating the process endlessly. (Something I read about, somewhere.) There has to be a better way – the planning equivalent of not getting drunk in the first place.

In the area where I live the 65+ age group accounts for 30.1% of the total population, and of that group just 31.6% was born in Wales. (Click to enlarge panel.) By the Inspectorate’s own reasoning, this is not healthy, and something should be done to remedy the problem. But a younger element cannot be attracted to the area a) because there is little or no work and b) southern Gwynedd – unlike Denbighshire – is too far away for English commuters. So either we remedy the generational imbalance by bringing in a non-working younger population or we curb the numbers of retirees and elderly moving in. The answer is becoming obvious, especially when isolated.

The whole Western world admits to the accelerating problem of a falling birthrate / ageing population and wonders how to cope. Yet here, on the periphery of Europe, one of the continent’s poorest countries is actually encouraging elderly people to move in! This will result in the death of the Welsh language and the loss of Welsh identity, it will push the NHS and other services beyond breaking point while, economically, this house of cards cannot endure, because the idea that it’s possible to have a healthy, functioning society when the bulk of the adult population is economically inactive is simply delusional. While to misrepresent this phenomenon as proof of ‘Caring Wales’, or to make a virtue of it by arguing that it shows how ‘attractive’ Wales is to outsiders, is no better than telling a rape victim she should be flattered that someone found her so irresistable.

Curbing the numbers of retired and elderly people moving to Wales must henceforth be a priority for the ‘Welsh Government, because if this is not done then the costs will rise, and eventually engulf us. Now, obviously, the ‘Welsh’ Government, even if it was so minded, could not pass legislation stating this as an objective, but it could certainly introduce legislation to ensure that the flats and retirement bunglaows aimed specifically at buyers of a certain age, living outside of Wales, are no longer built in the numbers, and the concentrations, of the recent past.

Curbing this unsustainable influx would also ensure that the Planning Inspectorate could not engage in the black arts of planning as it has in Denbighshire – using one form of colonisation to demand another.

Mar 132014
 

I had intended putting this out on Twitter or Facebook, just to inform people that the deadline for representations on the planned 1,700 new homes at Bodelwyddan in Denbighshire has been extended to March 21st. In view of the new figures available for both population predictions and household size it is well worth challenged this plan because it is clearly no longer needed. (In fact, these 1,700 new homes were never needed.) I have chosen to develop the subject into a post after reading the planning inspectors’ report on Denbighshire’s Local Development Plan. (Click on image to enlarge.)Denbighshire blog map

I want to pick out certain comments made by the inspectors because they are worthy of a wider audience. I say that because although we may be talking here of Bodelwyddan, or Denbighshire, the attitudes displayed by the inspectors have national implications. Because this is how they operate all over Wales.

Let’s start by identifying the inspectors, Anthony Thickett and Gwynedd Thomas. We can safely assume that the report is the work of Thickett and that Gwynedd Thomas is there to lend a little local colour. I Googled ‘Anthony Thickett’ and found his name linked to planning matters all over England and Cornwall in recent years. Though he seems to be based in Cardiff, which provides further proof that the Planning Inspectorate is an Englandandwales body, and answers to the Department for Communities and Local Government in London. So what did Mr Thickett have to say last year in response to Denbighshire County Council’s revision of their Local Development Plan? As you might imagine, I was specifically interested in those recommendations that related to housing.

Starting with 4.1 (page 16) we learn that, “The 2008 Welsh Government* projections indicate the need (my italics) for around 8,500 new units in Denbighshire between 2008 and 2023.” The council argued for a lower figure on the grounds that more recent statistics showed a reduced need. The inspectors would have none of it, and their response was a gem of officialese that can be found in the panel (click to enlarge). In essence, it says, ‘Yes, the council is quite right; but we shall still insist on thousands of unnecessary new housing units anyway’. So what are “the objectives and aspirations” that justify the Planning4.8 Inspectorate ignoring the council’s plea? We are told that Denbighshire has an ageing population – or “aging” according to the inspectors – with more deaths than births, which would result in a declining population unless young people moved in to the county. Let us examine this claim.

Denbighshire, like many other parts of Wales, has an ageing population due to the lack of a healthy and balanced economy. Worsened by tourism creating few worthwhile jobs for locals while attracting retirees and elderly people. This can be remedied, according to the inspectors, with a building programme to attract a younger population from outside of the county. But wait! if the lack of jobs forces many young people to move away, where are the jobs for this younger population moving in? Well, most of the jobs will remain where they are now, in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire. For what the inspectors are really talking about is attracting a commuter population. (Apart from the riff-raff being dumped in the coastal ghettoes.) This explains why the bulk of the planned new housing is close to the A55. Moving on, what do messrs Thickett and Thomas have to say on the Welsh language?

You may not have noticed – few have – that Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society) has started a campaign demanding that the Welsh language be a material consideration in planning matters. The inspectors address the very same issue, and produce another little gem of officialese (click panel to enlarge). What this says (again, in essence) is, ‘We shall always find a reason to ignore the Welsh language’. But there is sugar on the pill with the following assurance (yup, in essence), ‘Even though we are doing our best to kill off your language, and your very identity, we shallLDP Welsh Language 2 disguise this atrocity with Welsh street names in the new developments’. The kind of cheap and meaningless cosmeticism that has satisfied language (non-)campaigners in recent decades.

The answer to Denbighshire’s “aging” population is not an unending programme of house building but a healthy and balanced local economy to stabilise and grow the indigenous population. Coupled with a presumption against those housing developments designed to attract elderly buyers from outside Wales. These are hardly radical demands when Welsh identity is under threat in a way it never has been before. An assault that if it showed itself with the ugly visage of overt oppression would be resisted; but when it sidles up behind the mask of ‘development’ and ‘economic activity’, then too many are fooled. We cannot allow ourselves to be fooled any more. There are too many areas where we Welsh are already in a minority. It’s time to say, ‘Thus far and no further’. Speak out and don’t allow the colonisation of our homeland to be brushed under the carpet any longer.

Now is the time to do it. I say that because for years the Planning Inspectorate has had everything its own way, It has browbeaten our local authorities with questionable statistics produced by in-house statisticians demanding thousands upon thousands of new homes Wales doesn’t need. Demands then mouthed obediently for them by those traitorous buffoons down Cardiff docks. The game is up. No one can persist in arguing that Denbighshire needs 8,500 new homes to meet a population increase of 4,134, and a household size of 2.31, without admitting to a colonisation strategy.

Make a start by writing to Denbighshire County Council arguing against the plan for a new town of 1,700 homes next to Bodelwyddan. (Many councillors and council employees will be glad to hear from you.) Send an e-mail to planning@denbighshire.gov.uk or write to the Planning Department, Caledfryn, Smithfield Road, Denbigh LL16 3RJ. Why not also contact the Planning Inspectorate at their Welsh outpost: either e-mail wales@pins.gsi.gov.uk, or write to, The Planning Inspectorate, Crown Buildings, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NQ. Tell them you know what their game is, and from now on their ethnocidal strategy will be opposed.

* Talking here of “the Welsh Government projections” is rather naughty. The figures were produced by the Knowledge and Analytical Services which, like the Planning Inspectorate, has a few staff based in Cardiff, pretends it answers to the ‘Welsh’ Government, but is in reality part of the Department for Communities and Local Government in London.