Planners' verdict on build plots in village so beautiful that almost no one local can buy a home

Aberdaron in Gwynedd -Credit:Eryl Crump

Planners have given their verdict on proposals for build plots in a village on the tip of Wales where only 2% of locals can afford to buy a home. Due to its stunning beachside location, local people in Aberdaron have to battle it out with second home seekers, holiday let investors and people looking to retire to the area.

Aberdaron and Abersoch has the second highest concentration of holiday homes in the UK after Salcombe in Devon. There were 620 such properties in June 2023 according to the ONS. This does include holiday lets.

Meanwhile the Median Household Income in the surrounding areas of Tudweiliog, Sarn Mellteyrn, Botwnnog, Rhoshirwaun, Aberdaron, Bryncroes was quoted as £26,423 in a 2019 report.

It means the average price of a home in the village on the end of the Llyn Peninsula is currently £376,114 according to the latest stats. A report said this meant homes were out of reach of 98.2% of those living in the community and surrounding areas.

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These stats were cited by a developer as justification for new self build plots. Aled Bryn Williams wanted to help address the property crisis by adding five self build plots on a patch of land at Bodernabwy.

This would be outside the current LDP plan and inside the Llŷn Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) but Mr Williams believes the need for plots for local people to build homes should override this.

While planners at Cyngor Gwynedd said they aware of the homes crisis in the community it couldn't justify recommending the scheme for approval. That report and recommendation will go before the planning committee on Monday.

They admit only six new units have been built in the village since 2011 and also the community council had no objection to the outline application.

But planners said: "The current housing situation in the village of Aberdaron village is well known in terms of how difficult it is to find a house at an affordable price. The principle of new residential development that would contribute towards meeting the need locally is therefore fully supported.

"However, this does not mean that any proposal submitted is permissible and proposals must comply completely with the relevant requirements of policies that protect a highly sensitive area such as here from unacceptable new development. ⁠ ⁠

"Having considered the above and all the relevant planning matters including local and national policies and guidance, as well as all the observations received, it is believed that this proposal is unacceptable in the form submitted, as it fails to satisfy the requirements of the relevant policies and guidance."

They said: "The application does not provide information to justify the mix and type of housing provided and their affordable price nor how the proposal will meet the needs of the local community."

The report adds: "This site is not thought to be acceptable as it would create an unacceptable extension into the countryside creating a fragmented pattern of development within its local context."

Homes in Aberdaron are only affordable for 2% of people who live in the area, report says
Homes in Aberdaron are only affordable for 2% of people who live in the area, a report says -Credit:Robert Parry Jones/North Wales Live

In the application, planning agent Berwyn Owen, from Berllan Properties Ltd, said: "Clearly the starting point for any exception site for affordable dwellings is the actual need for such properties. A survey of housing need in Aberdaron has been carried out as recently as 2021 with Grwp Cynefin and the Rural Housing Enabler.

"This survey was in effect commissioned by Grwp Cynefin in order to establish and recognise the need for affordable dwellings in the village. The overall conclusion was there was an ‘obvious’ need for such dwellings in Aberdaron.

"It recognised that there was an insufficient number of suitable affordable properties available on the open market. It also identified that there were no private rental properties available, no social housing and no affordable houses for purchase.

"It noted also that no land had been allocated for housing at Aberdaron within the Local Development Plan. The survey and report also mentioned that only three new affordable dwellings have been completed in Aberdaron since 2011.

"This was reflected in that the average house price in Aberdaron was given as £376,114 and that in effect this meant such values were out of reach of 98.2% of the local population. There is, it would appear, a shortfall of social housing in the village also with only 10 such properties available for local housing needs.

"Further data was revealed at the time of presenting the report whereby it was discovered that three properties were for sale, ranging in value from £395,950 up to £495,000. An updated interrogation of property search engines reveals there still to be only three properties for sale ranging from £350,000 to £499,000. The most up-to-date (median household income) figure is revealed as £27,300 gross average earnings which still makes any properties for sale as unaffordable."

They state that any plots would only be made available to local persons or families who wish to build their own properties. The 2011 census indicated that in Aberdaron 74% were identified as able to speak Welsh and 81% with Welsh ‘skills’.

Mr Owen added: "It is clear that Aberdaron has a healthy Welsh speaking community when compared with Gwynedd, which in itself has a healthy Welsh speaking community when compared with the rest of Wales. "However when compared with 2001 Census figures, Gwynedd experienced a decrease of 3.6% in its Welsh speaking population. Therefore whilst there is seemingly a healthy Welsh speaking community in Aberdaron there is still a need to protect the language through avoiding inappropriate development. Indeed appropriate development such as affordable homes for local people.

"This is a development that will clearly support and enhance the use of Welsh in this local community."

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