‘Wildly inaccurate’ population projections under fire

Plaid AM challenges Welsh Government over plans to build housing on greenfield sites

Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd has raised concerns about the way councils are being forced to permit more housing developments by the Welsh Government based on “wildly inaccurate” population projections.

Mr Gruffydd raised the matter of Local Development Plans in questions to the cabinet secretary responsible for planning Lesley Griffiths, the Wrexham AM.

He pointed out that “the mid-year population estimates are showing clearly that the projections that have been used as a basis for many of these local development plans are clearly incorrect. In Wrexham’s case, the population projection back in 2014 was for an increase of around 1,200 people in population by mid 2016. We now find, of course, that the increase has actually been four – not 4% but just four people. Now, clearly, that basis is fundamentally flawed in relation to the LDPs that we do have. They’re wildly inaccurate, but they still remain the basis for the LDPs that have been reviewed or that are currently in place.

“Will you agree with me that this inherent flaw in the LDPs is leading to an overestimation in terms of population, which in turn means that there will be more and largely unnecessary developments in terms of greenfield areas, in places, for example, where you yourself have opposed such schemes, in places such as Llay, in the past?”

Ms Griffiths responded by saying it was unfortunate Wrexham council did not have an LDP in place but was challenged further on the matter in relation to Flintshire and Conwy councils.

Mr Gruffydd added later: “There’s a deep inconsistency here. On the one hand, the cabinet secretary says she wants development to be based on a robust plan but the Labour Government has already forced three of the six north Wales councils to amend or re-write their LDPs because they don’t provide for enough housing. The rationale for increasing the number of houses were the Government’s own population projections, which have proven to be wildly inaccurate when measured against the reality.

“Welsh communities need a planning system that works for them rather than a Labour Government that bases plans on flawed figures that effectively allow developers a free rein when it comes to building on greenfield sites. The cabinet secretary was vocal enough when it came to plans to build 365 houses on green fields near Llay in her own constituency so let’s see some consistency.”


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