Taxing local builders is not the way to do it

11:16am Thursday 19th June 2014

ANYTHING that will help the National Park (NP) achieve its affordable housing target is to be welcomed.

However imposing significant taxes on local builders is not the answer.

I have been contacted by numerous developers, builders, tradesmen and planning professionals in the past three years complaining that the park’s policy on affordable housing had effectively bought work on all new builds to a grinding halt.

The Welsh Assembly rules are being enforced so rigidly and the cost of the affordable home tax is so high that people are finding they simply cannot afford to build. It is a classic case of cutting of your nose to spite your face – a worthy idea which has had the opposite effect of what was intended.

Only three affordable homes were being built every year in the Park instead of the target of 35.

No wonder electricians were being laid off and joiners were desperate for work.

So the Park’s recent agreement to relax the Welsh Assembly’s rules is very welcome.

If those building just one house or redeveloping one property can be dealt with more sympathetically then this will go a long way to unblocking the system.

And anyone worried about protecting the unique nature of the Park should not worry either. This is not about building on green fields or in sensitive locations, but enabling people to engage in sustainable projects that help our local economy and most importantly of all, help our families stay in the area.

The current Welsh Assembly policy unintentionally works against all of these objectives.

We won’t know how successful the new regime is until at least year has passed – but I’m pleased that the Park Authority has acknowledged that the current situation has failed. It now has the chance of becoming the flag ship National Park in Wales, by pressing Cardiff to drop the tax, and recognising that the most important thing about our Park is its people.

SIMON HART MP

West Carmarthen and South Pembrokeshire

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