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WELSH OFFICE CONSULTS ON WELSH LANGUAGE ASPECTS OF PLANNING

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Welsh planning minister Jon Owen Jones has launched a consultation exercise on revised guidance about how the plann...
Welsh planning minister Jon Owen Jones has launched a consultation exercise on revised guidance about how the planning system should take account of the Welsh language.

The revised advice encourages Welsh councils to take the language into account in their development plans and encourages councils to promote the use of Welsh signs and advertisements and traditional Welsh names for new developments.

The guidance also makes it clear that councils should not use planning policies to discriminate between individuals based on whether or not they speak Welsh, and not to try to control who lives in new housing developments on language grounds.

Mr Jones said: 'The aim of the revised guidance is to ensure that the planning system can contribute to the well-being of the Welsh language, while avoiding discrimination between people on language grounds.'

Notes

Current advice is contained in the Welsh office circular, The Welsh Language - Development Plans and Planning Control, issued in 1988 (ref. WO 53/88).

This recognised that the Welsh language can, like other social issues, be a material consideration for the planning system.

It encouraged local councils to take the needs and interests of the language into account in preparing land use plans. Councils were also advised that the language could be a consideration to deciding planning applications, but all decisions must be on planning grounds only.

Changes proposed by the new draft guidance are:

a. A short introduction to set the role of planning in relation to the Welsh language in the wider context of maintaining thriving communities where Welsh is spoken.

b. Updated references to the present development plan system - ie replacing structure and local plans by unitary development plans.

c. Reference to the new regional groupings of local planning authorities in Wales which are collaborating on strategic policies, with advice that they should take the Welsh language into account.

d. Policy guidance reflecting the needs and interests of the Welsh language in relation to housing distribution between different areas.

e. Encouragement for the appropriate use of signs and advertisements in Welsh, for local planning authorities to prepare supplementary planning guidance on this, and encouragement for the retention of traditional Welsh names for new developments.

f. A clear statement that Unitary Development Plan Policies which take account of the Welsh language should not introduce any element of discrimination between individuals on language grounds nor seek to control housing occupancy on language grounds.

g. Advice to consult the Welsh Language Board on Unitary Development Plans.

h. Advice on the use of Welsh in plan preparations and planning inquiries.

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