The Welsh community of Abergele has a long history that stretches back to the days of the Roman Empire, when it was an old trading town. However, residents are afraid that the community will lose its character under a new development plan, which calls for 855 new homes to be built over the next 10 years.
According to the North Wales Weekly News, the Conwy County Council’s Local Development Plan (LDP) calls for the new houses to built in 6 sites across the community. Many local residents believe that’s too many, saying the proposal leaves too little green spaces and natural areas and would turn the region into a suburb of nearby Chester.
One tool concerned citizens plan to use to force revisions in the proposal is a clause in the LDP that restricts projects that would be detrimental to the Welsh language. Currently, Conwy County has the 5th highest density of Welsh speakers of all the principal areas in Wales (per Wikipedia.) Since most of the newcomers would presumably be from somewhere else, it’s unlikely that they would speak Welsh.
Cllr Phil Edwards explained to the North Wales Weekly News that this could give residents the ability to halt the controversial development:
“The Welsh language and heritage could actually come to our aid here. There is a section in the LDP that talks about language and heritage. If a development is likely to have a detrimental effect on this, then developers will have to produce a language assessment report. If you insist on having Welsh language assessments conducted by developers, and if they turn out to be detrimental to its future, you can effectively use this to stop it going ahead. The death knell of the language will not be stopped by a county boundary.”