December 2019

Affordable Housing in the News In the wake of the pre-planning consultation and new application for Clwyd Alyn’s affordable housing at Glasdir, there’s a sense that Ruthin is rehearsing its arguments for the wave of mass housing expansion that the next local development plan might unleash. In our September edition, we reckoned that Ruthin might see upward of 650 to 880 additional homes. What impact will this and the current Clwyd Alyn development have? First, new housing will support local businesses. Structural changes in society will inevitably result in further reducing town centre footfall, for example, and more people living locally will (presumably) help to mitigate the worst effects of online shopping on our fragile town centre. More houses will help support other businesses, from carpet and furniture sales to decorating products to engineers and craftsmen. Secondly, the new Clwyd Alyn development promised at Glasdir together with up to 70 houses at Llys Famau and perhaps as many at the former Rhos Street schools site will offer much needed affordable housing. There have been calls for such housing in the past. Clwyd Alyn’s development isn’t social housing. It’s for people who have an income but cannot step onto the property ladder. Isn’t this exactly sort of thing that our young people need? Thirdly, there appears a general view that there isn’t a demand for such housing. The waiting list has just 20 people on it, some argue. Clwyd Alyn and Tai Teg reckon differently. They believe there are more than 500, when you combine all known lists. Shouldn’t we be supporting the needs of younger families or older people for example needing bungalows? Fourthly, some argue our infrastructure isn’t right for expansion. Some believe schools are nearly full. But are they? It would seem that two classes in one of the three Ruthin primaries are at capacity but that, overall, there is scope to educate more. Between the three developments, there may be 50-60 additional learners spread between three primaries. Ysgol Brynhyfryd is still under-capacity compared to recent years. It can accommodate 1,243 and it has about 1,000 at present. Doctors and dentists may present a problem but we do have an opportunity to increase capacity when Mount Street surgery moves to the hospital site. What’s interesting is that if you go back in time, you will hear these same arguments about schools and doctors at each wave or phase of the town’s housing development. A parallel to Clwyd Alyn occurred in January 1998, for example, when the town council initially objected to 40 new affordable houses near Maes Hafod, citing exactly the same reasoning—the impact on infrastructure. If services were a constraint on development, then Ruthin currently would likely be no bigger than it was in the 1920s. It’s an incremental process. We need to watch the quality, nature and condition of the houses we build. Beauty and design are in the eye of the beholder but that proposed by the Clwyd Alyn development appears contemporary and fresh. We’re promised energy efficient homes which dispense with gas in favour of friendlier air source heat technology that potentially shames the current market housing sector. Clwyd Alyn’s Glasdir proposal is not overly dense in nature and appears well laid out, though a better separation of housing and parked cars might improve it. We must also watch exactly where we build and the number of new properties we are building, that’s for sure. Nothing should threaten the best of our market town. But Glasdir is an ideal place to develop at present because it’s: Impact on other housing is low Within the current and proposed LDPs Within walking distance of town, with new and improved active travel links, and Abutting to an existing development. There’ll presumably be a supermarket around the corner (unless Aldi has cold feet) and existing & proposed employment land is nearby. Indeed, building there gives the existing market housing at Glasdir some sort of cohesiveness with the town, for an existing estate that otherwise simply appears to have been plonked down.
Archive from 2013 Historic Interest
Proposed Clwyd Alyn site
Market housing extension
Taylor Wimpey’s Glasdir
Part of Clwyd Alyn’s two- and three-bed houses and 2-bed bungalows, at Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd, under construction. There are 38 units available, in total