Welsh speakers worried about housing plans

Developments could be detrimental to language

The Welsh flag. photograph: getty images

The Welsh flag. photograph: getty images

Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 11:06

Welsh-language activist, Mr Ben Gregory, from the Welsh Language Society ( Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg), told BBC Wales’ Sunday Politics programme yesterday that plans to build social housing in Gwynedd and Anglesey could be detrimental to the well-being of the Welsh language in the area.

Mr Gregory said that people who would buy houses in Gwynedd would come from outside the area, would not speak Welsh and would probably not learn the language. “We’ve seen over the past 10 years with results of the last census that the number of Welsh speakers in Gwynedd has gone down markedly. With more and more housing being built for people who move in from outside of the area that’s only going to have a bigger impact and put more pressure on the Welsh language,” he told the BBC.

Mr Gregory was speaking the day after around 300 Welsh speakers held a protest in Caernarfon town centre to demonstrate against the development in Gwynedd. Both Gwynedd and Anglesey councils have drawn up plans to build 8,400 new homes between 2011 and 2026. The leader of Gwynedd council and a Plaid Cymru councillor, Mr Dyfed Edwards, told the BBC that the effect of the housing on the Welsh language had been considered; the council wanted to support Welsh but also wanted to build houses that local people could afford to buy.

The Welsh Language Society has put forward its own planning Bill which would make Welsh a material planning consideration so that planning applications could be rejected on grounds of language impact and make language-impact assessments compulsory on developments of a certain size.