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Conwy’s planning policy punishing Welsh speakers in countryside claims

Applicant Glynwen Davies applied to Conwy's planning department, seeking permission to convert an existing stone outbuilding into a new home at Fox Hall, Ffordd Gyffylog, Eglwysbach.

WELSH speakers living in the countryside are being punished by Conwy’s planning policy, claims a concerned councillor.

Applicant Glynwen Davies, a secondary school teacher, applied to Conwy’s planning department, seeking permission to convert an existing stone outbuilding into a new home.

Her plans for the building at Fox Hall, Ffordd Gyffylog, Eglwysbach, were recommended to be refused by Conwy’s planning officers – but this advice was ignored by councillors who granted the application.

Ms Davies said she was young and single and claimed she couldn’t afford to buy a home – and vowed she wouldn’t sell once planning was agreed.

Her family, who have lived in the village for 75 years, gave her the land at their farm, and it was claimed the building had been used as a house historically.

Planning officers said that it should be refused as the land was in open countryside.

Cllr Trystan Lewis argued that Welsh-speaking residents living in the countryside were being treated unfairly, hinting young people had to leave the area where they grew up because they couldn’t afford homes.

“We had a site visit yesterday, and some of my co-members were there.  We saw for ourselves the suitability of the place,” he said.

“We’ve heard it is a family home and has been for some years. It is a stone’s throw from Glynwen’s home.

“Can I refer you to Tan 6 on section 16 (planning policy), which refers to the reuse of farm buildings. This has been not only a farm building, but it has been a house as well. And although you can debate one way or the other about the basis for that, it is obvious that it was a dwelling at one point and has been part of the family’s farm and land. Isn’t it much nicer to adapt a stone building, a traditional building, rather than build new ones, and get developments which are suited for the area, which are very pretty?”

He added: “The applicant could easily move closer to her workplace, but she is choosing to live in the area where she has been raised.

We’ve heard she’s taking part in young farmers’ clubs, the Welsh language, and Tan 20 comes into it as well, that we promote and support the Welsh language.

“So I would argue that it is not the application that’s defective but the policy, as we have seen many times. As a committee member, I shall be calling on the need to look at the policy because the Welsh language people living in the countryside are being punished, and this is what we are seeing here as well.”

Cllr Gwennol Ellis said: “I was also on the site visit yesterday, and in my opinion, it is not the conversion of the building into a dwelling but turning a building back into being a dwelling. There is even a chimney still on the building. So it already looks like a prospective home.

“The officers say this is a market value home. Well in my opinion it is a home for life, and as the applicant has said, she has no intention of selling the home.”

Addressing the committee, applicant Ms Davies said: “I am a young single person who has been raised and lived in Eglwysbach all through my life with my family.

“My family has lived in Eglwysbach for 75 years, and I’ve been lucky enough to receive land from them to build a home for myself.

“The site is about 1.5 km from my home. So it is an ideal location to support my parents in future and continue living in the countryside.

“I’m a teacher working in a Welsh-medium secondary school and a part-time student at Bangor University, and living in Eglwysbach is a very central location to travel to both sides daily. “