Wales...Locals may get first refusal on houses in Welsh-speaking areas blighted by second homes!

I really hope this happens in all of Wales. 

Also, the granting of planning permission for all these so-called luxury oap flats and large houses should only be given when this is added to at least 50 to 60% of the units built.

It is about time the Welsh people got some control back over their country that they have lost for so many years.

Home buyers in Welsh-speaking communities could be pushed to the front of the property queue as part of efforts to address the housing crisis in Wales. Sellers may be able to offer their properties to local people for a set period before they go onto the open market.

The proposed “Fair Chance" scheme is designed to tackle the lack of affordable housing in Wales, in particular in places where there are large numbers of second homes. Steps to protect Welsh place names will also be announced by the Welsh Government tomorrow (August 4) at the National Eisteddfod in Tregaron, Ceredigion.

Overseeing the measures will be a new Commission for Welsh-speaking Communities (Comisiwn Cymunedau Cymraeg), which will bring together experts to make policy recommendations aimed at protecting the Welsh language. The 10-strong Commission will be chaired by Swansea University academic Dr. Simon Brooks.

In Tregaron, tomorrow, Jeremy Miles, minister for education and Welsh language, will give a taste of Cardiff’s plans to safeguard Welsh-speaking communities - and to stem the rise of second homes.

“For the Welsh language to thrive, we need sustainable communities and good job opportunities in the areas where it is widely spoken,” he said. “This isn’t about imposing solutions, so everything we do will be in line with local communities’ aspirations.”

In some communities in Wales, second homes makeup almost 40% of housing stocks, demand having been further boosted by Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. The trend has created a social crisis with a generation of young people unable to buy homes in the places where they grew up, driving migration and fuelling resentment.

Welsh language minister Jeremy Miles is due to reveal more details of the 'fair chance scheme' at the National Eisteddfod
Welsh language minister Jeremy Miles is due to reveal more details of the 'fair chance scheme' at the National Eisteddfod 

The proposed Fair Chance scheme is one of a growing list of measures introduced in an attempt to tackle the problem. As its name suggests, homeowners will be encouraged to give people a “fair chance” when local properties are being sold.

It is envisaged the scheme will be voluntary and that participants will be able to market their properties “locally only” for a fixed period. Details have yet to be announced: it remains unclear if the ability to speak Welsh will be a purchasing criterion alongside the place of residence.

Whether local people will be able to afford houses that have risen sharply in price in recent years is a question yet to be addressed by Cardiff. Critics claim that stocks of affordable housing must be increased if the property crisis is to be eased.

Will the Fair Chance scheme make any difference? Will sellers always hold out for the best price? Have your say in the comments below.

The Welsh Government said it will work with estate agents in worst-hit communities ahead of the publication of the final Welsh Language Community Housing Plan (WLCHP) in the autumn. This plan will also include support for social enterprises and community housing co-operatives, as well as steps to protect Welsh place names from erosion by English language alternatives.

Dr. Brook’s appointment as Commission chair stems from an independent review of the second homes policy he undertook for the Welsh Government in 2021. This recommended sweeping action while recognizing that policy must differentiate between regions and localities.

The report led to a series of interventions implemented by Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru as part of their Co-operation Agreement. Councils were given discretionary powers to increase council tax premiums on second homes – and long-term empty homes – by up to 300%.

Last month, plans for new planning laws, and land transaction tax changes, were also announced, along with a licensing scheme for short-term holiday lets. From next April, self-catered accommodation must be let for half the year to avoid council tax premiums.

The measures appear to be having an effect already, with second home numbers falling slightly in counties like Gwynedd as owners grapple with a 100% council tax premium. Local Welsh speakers may now be given the first chance to snap up these properties if, as is expected, the trickle turns into a flood as council tax premiums are increased.

Critics complain current measures will do little to address the rise of Airbnb short-term holiday lets which has further tightened property supplies. Jeremy Miles expects the Commission to provide more solutions and warned some may be “difficult” to swallow.

“I’ve said many times that the Cymraeg belongs to us all, as does the responsibility for its future,” he said. “We’ll have to be brave and tackle things together that might be difficult.

“I’m sure that some of the things the Commission will tell us will be challenging, but that’s important - that’s what will help us find the most effective answers!”

Comisiwn Cymunedau Cymraeg will produce a report spanning policy areas from education to the economy. Its views are expected to be “candid”.

As chair, Dr Brooks said the report will “examine the linguistic reality of Welsh-speaking communities” in order to “safeguard them for future generations”.