South West Wales

Pembrokeshire coast park introduces single homes charge

Strumble Head in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Image caption The new charge came into force this weekend

A controversial new property development charge has come into force in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

The levy on one-off housing developments will be used to help finance affordable housing.

It will be be phased in over three years. People building a three-bedroom home could eventually face a £25,000 charge.

But developers claim the charge is flawed and could hinder house building.

There are currently about 400 people on the area's housing waiting list and the park authority said it wants to see 530 new affordable homes by 2021.

A percentage of developments of two or more homes already have to be given over to affordable housing.

From 1 October, one-off homes will also have to make a contribution by paying into a pot of money which will be used to finance local affordable housing.

Martina Dunne, head of development plans for the park authority, told BBC Radio Wales' Eye on Wales: "If you understand that we're asking for 50% affordable housing on sites of two or more in the national park, what we wanted to do was to be equitable in our approach and ask for a similar contribution from the smaller developments."

Once it is being charged at its full rate, the fee for an average two-storey, three-bedroom home with a 100 square metres of floor space would be £25,000.

'Shambles'

Lawrenny dairy farmer and developer David Lort-Phillips said he fears the policy may lead to more holiday homes being built, as they are exempt from the charge.

When the national park authority consulted on the charge it received just one response in favour, he said.

"We think it is a shambles, quite frankly.

"It's the wrong policy applied in the wrong place at the wrong time by the wrong people."

Fellow developer Michael Ritchie of Dragonsway Wales signed an open letter to both the park authority and Pembrokeshire council raising concerns the policy could hinder new homes building.

"There are many planning applications that five years ago I would have had a stab at because I felt the land was suitable for development," he said.

"Now you wouldn't bother because it's such a complicated business."

The park authority said it has made significant changes to the details of its new charge to address people's concerns.

Ms Dunne said only a small number of developments would be liable for the charge, as affordable housing and buildings replacing existing properties would be exempt.

The money raised will be passed to the council for two housing associations - Pembrokeshire Housing and Cantref - for future affordable housing projects.

Eye on Wales, broadcast on Sunday, 2 October at 13:00 BST, is available on the BBC iPlayer.

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