LABOUR councillors want to hear from farmers in Carmarthenshire about planning laws designed to help keep young people living in the countryside – a move which has “bemused” the Plaid Cymru administration.
Labour’s call comes ahead of a Plaid notice of motion at full council which questions the current approach in Wales, with particular reference to the One Planet Development policy.
This Wales-wide policy allows for some new homes in the countryside, based on a commitment to sustainable living, among other conditions.
The Plaid motion said the One Planet Development policy had resulted in considerable resentment by rural residents who find it difficult, if not impossible, to build a new home for younger generations on their land.
The motion calls for a review of the policy, and will be debated at a meeting on October 22.
Carmarthenshire Labour leader Cllr Rob James said: “We are very keen to hear from farmers who have experienced difficulties building a new property to hand over the farm to their children.
“We will ensure that the views of the farming community are heard by local and national Governments and that planning laws support the sustainability of rural communities.”
Cllr James, who leads the main opposition group, said only 21 One Planet Developments were approved in Wales between 2013 and 2019, compared to 251 properties defined as rural enterprise dwellings.
He added that Carmarthenshire Council have refused six of the seven applications that were turned down in Wales during this period.
According to Cllr James, the Welsh Government wants to encourage younger people manage farm businesses and permits the creation of a second home on an established farm to facilitate this.
His Labour colleague, Cllr Deryk Cundy, said: “We are a little taken aback to hear some politicians attacking the One Planet Development policy.”
“We are keen to ensure that we continue to protect our wonderful landscape, whilst supporting farmers to provide sustainable employment to young farmers in our area.”
Plaid councillor Alun Lenny, who chairs the planning committee, said Labour was “way behind the curve” on this issue.
“I’m bemused by Labour’s sudden show of concern for farmers and the rural communities,” he said.
The council, he said, has already consulted with farmers, agricultural businesses and rural communities during the preparation of Carmarthenshire’s new local development plan.
Cllr Lenny said the new plan should make it much easier for local people to set up a rural business and live on their own land, as long it’s approved by the Welsh Government.
He disputed Cllr James’s assertion about the permitting of a second home on an established farm, saying it wasn’t true.
Cllr Lenny said he felt the current regulations were “most restrictive”.
He added: “Plaid already knows what needs to be changed and through the new local development plan are already working towards enabling that change.”