A COMMUNITY leader has scored a victory in his campaign against Welsh Government house-building targets.

Conwy county councillor Mike Priestly mounted his campaign after leading protests against the proposed development of 110 houses at Marl Lane, Deganwy.

He launched it with an online petition, which gathered more than 700 signatures. It has been discussed twice by the Welsh Assembly petitions committee, which has resolved to gather evidence from local authority planning chairmen and planning officers.

Cllr Priestly said: “This evidence will include the damaging effect the current government guidance has had through allowing speculative planning applications that have torn our communities apart.

“We now have the chance to develop guidelines that work for and not against our communities.”

He added: “The Welsh Government has pressurised local councils to identify sites for more and more houses, utterly regardless of local need.

"This has given the green light to developers to apply for permissions on completely inappropriate sites and in the teeth of opposition from local residents. The Marl Lane in Deganwy application is a good example of this. In fact it is what triggered me to ask Cardiff Bay to reconsider the unacceptably-high housing targets it sets local councils.”

Existing guidance states that if a local council does not have a five-year building land supply, the need to increase supply should be given considerable weight when dealing with planning applications.

This will be considered by the petitions committee and will be relaxed while it deliberates.

This will strengthen the hands of local council’s planning committees in standing up to developers and makes it easier for planning inspectors to turn down appeals.

The Marl Lane application aroused a storm of protest from local residents and was refused by Conwy’s planning committee. It was proposed by Beech Developments of Llandudno Junction, who entered an appeal against this decision.

The protests were jointly led by Cllr Priestly and fellow councillor Sue Shotter, both of whom are the local councillors for application.

Cllr Shotter said: “What is needed is a bottom-up approach based on local needs for housing and what residents want – not top-down diktats from Cardiff Bay.

“The arbitrary housing targets they set have nothing to do with the reality on the ground. But they do leave it free for developers to hold councils to ransom and push housing applications through regardless of local needs and existing policies.”