Gwynedd Cabinet expected to limit second homes across the county

Language campaigners expect Cyngor Gwynedd’s Cabinet to approve the introduction of an Article 4 Direction across the county, which would limit second homes and holiday accommodation and mitigate the housing crisis in the county. There are now calls for other councils to follow Gwynedd’s example and for the Welsh Government to support these councils.

As part of a package of measures introduced in 2021 intended to alleviate the housing crisis in Wales, the Welsh Government gave local planning authorities the power to introduce an Article 4 Direction, which would make planning permission mandatory before turning a permanent home into a second home or holiday accommodation.

Following a consultation process, Cyngor Gwynedd’s Cabinet will make a final decision on the introduction of their Article 4 Direction next Tuesday (16 July). If passed, Cyngor Gwynedd would be the first local authority in Wales to pass the policy.

In a Justification Report presented to the Council at the start of the consultation process, reference was made to research which showed that 65.5% of the county’s population could not afford to live in it, and that measures introduced so far – such as increasing premium council tax on second homes – were not enough on their own.

According to the figures of the last Census, the population of Gwynedd fell by 3.7%, and the proportion that spoke Welsh by 1%.

In an open letter from the Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s Gwynedd and Môn Region, Gwyn Siôn Ifan, to Cyngor Gwynedd’s Cabinet, he said that the authority would be “expected” to “use all the powers available to you to tackle the housing crisis, in this case, by introducing an Article 4 Direction across the county.”

He also says that it is key that Cyngor Gwynedd continues with the policy in order to “show leadership” and “give guidance to the rest of Wales.”

Several other local authorities have delayed introducing similar measures. One of these is Conwy Council, who referred in April to staffing and cost challenges as a reason not to continue with the policy. Ceredigion Council has said that it is necessary to see how the process operates in Gwynedd before starting it there; while the Snowdonia National Park has prioritized work on submitting an Article 4 Direction for the Local Development Plan in the park area.

Cymdeithas yr Iaith has called several times on the Welsh Government to provide support and guidance to Local Authorities to introduce an Article 4 Direction, and has now reiterated that call. Dr Jeff Smith, Chair of the Cymdeithas yr Iaith Sustainable Communities Group, said:

“We are pleased to see Gwynedd Council proceeding with the process of introducing an Article 4 Direction across the whole county, but the housing crisis in Wales exists beyond the borders of Gwynedd. We are now calling on other local authorities to follow this example across their counties.

“It is evident that financial considerations, administrative capacity and uncertainty about the process have prevented them from proceeding, so the Welsh Government has a duty to prepare a support package that includes funding for additional staff in order to administer it along with clear guidelines. What is the purpose of these new powers if local authorities cannot make use of them due to a lack of resources or leadership?”

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