DISAPPOINTMENT has been expressed that residents in their 80s and 90s – including many who were displaced from their homes during the Second World War – could now face having to move.
It comes after Gwynedd Council planners narrowly accepted a proposal to demolish 107 homes at the Penrhos Polish Village, near Pwllheli, for a new housing development.
In a close vote, seven members of the planning committee supported a recommendation to approve the scheme with five against and one abstention, during a meeting today (Monday, October 23).
The full application called for the demolition of 107 residential dwellings, three blocks used for visitor accommodation units, a nursing home, Scouts dormitories, hall and workshop, library/hall building, offices and garages.
The plans would then see the erection of 107 residential units, described as ‘100% affordable dwellings’ as replacement homes, together with alterations to internal access road and associated works and landscaping.
An existing church, canteen and dining room would remain, along with a memorial garden.
The application was made by ClwydAlyn Housing Ltd at the former RAF Penrhos airbase site.
After the war it had served as a demobilisation camp for Polish servicemen, with wooden barracks being replaced by flats and sheltered housing, as well residential and nursing care facilities – although a care home on the site closed in 2020.
Residents had worried the latest plans would see the loss of provision of their homes and communal facilities, now used by those from Poland as well Welsh people, and those from other backgrounds.
Speaking after the meeting, campaigner Barbara Owsianka, who had spoken at the meeting against the plan, said: “We are very disappointed the vote went against us, but it was close. It heartening that nearly half of the council listened to what we have to say and didn’t vote for this application. I just hope Clwyd Alyn takes that on board, and will listen to the residents.
“I hope they will make the residents central to their plans instead of their grand development to build essentially just a housing estate at this stage, everything else seems to be a wish, somewhere out in the future.
“In this application, there is nothing that describes the replacement of any of the communal services and facilities the elderly folks rely on, like the hairdresser’s or the launderette.
“A lot of people will be terribly worried, many don’t want to be moving in their 80s and 90s, some are very comfortable and happy in their bungalows.
“We are not against development, there are areas where it is run down, but the developers need to speak more to the residents to find out more about the facilities they need. I have heard several elderly people say they are just waiting for us to die, it is heartbreaking.”
During the meeting a speaker for the applicant stated the scheme provided a “significant investment” to provide “energy efficient and high quality replacement homes”.
They would provide lifelong, flexible housing, suitable over different stages of peoples’ lives and would provide much needed homes in the Penrhos and wider area.
The plans also included a “firm commitment” to transfer a plot of land to Gwynedd Council for the development of a care home.
The former Penrhos Polish Home provided accommodation and support to Polish ex-service men and women who remained in Britain after WWII.
Last week, Barbara’s 90-year-old mum, Maria Owsianka told the Daily Post she had been thrown out of her home, aged 11 with only what she could carry, while the Nazis burned Warsaw.
“We all came to Penrhos at the end of our lives in the expectation of a safe haven. We did not expect to be forced out of our homes yet again. We’ve been saying this for two years, but Clwyd Alyn haven’t listened.”