A DEVELOPMENT plan for Carmarthenshire should not “fossilise” rural parts of the county but attract young people back to them, a senior councillor has said.
Councillor Cefin Campbell said the ongoing migration of young people out of the county was having a “bad effect”.
He said: “We want them to come back. We need housing and we need work.”
The executive member for communities and rural affairs was speaking during a discussion about Carmarthenshire’s new local development plan (LDP) – an emerging planning blueprint for housing and employment up to 2033.
As things currently stand, the LDP aims to deliver 9,887 new homes and cater for a minimum of 5,295 jobs.
Developers and individuals have submitted 926 candidate sites for development, which in turn have prompted around 4,000 comments.
There have been 344 responses to the latest phase of the LDP, known as the draft preferred strategy, including from housebuilders, the Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Water, neighbouring authorities, a wind farm company, councillors and residents.
One submission from a global investment fund backed the principle of new retail, leisure and office space in town centres.
The Carmarthenshire branch of Welsh language society Sir Gâr Cymdeithas yr Iaith said the draft preferred strategy should reduce the migration of young people out of the county.
Cllr Campbell said factors such as Brexit and the city deal for the Swansea Bay City Region could affect the LDP before it is adopted by the council.
“If a hard Brexit happens, the effect of that on rural communities especially is going to be very bad, so we’ve got to factor that in,” he said.
Cllr Campbell said a rural affairs group he was leading would report on its findings in July, and that housing, jobs and the Welsh language would be the headline subjects.
New housing, he said, should be done sensitively and also be affordable.
“We don’t want to fossilise rural areas,” he said.
“We need affordable housing. We need to keep our young people in rural areas.”
Deputy leader Mair Stephens said the number and variety of responses to the LDP draft strategy was a good sign, and that she was confident that the work of the rural affairs group would be incorporated.
Cllr Stephens said the key principle of the draft preferred strategy was a “balanced community and sustainable growth”, and that it would come before full council shortly for debate.
The aim is for the LDP to be adopted by the council by the end of 2021.
Director of environment Ruth Mullen said housing projections “will be tested as we go forward”, and that policies on rural development and protection “are developed and are developing further”.