TWO Conwy politicians have won a David versus Goliath battle with the Welsh government.

Cllr Mike Priestley and AM Janet Finch-Saunders fought a campaign to stop the government allowing developers to ignore the local policies and concerns when making appeals against planning refusals.

They have persuaded the government to alter its guidance and strengthen the position of local councils.

Mike said: “It started when I saw a total disregard for Welsh council’s local development plans (LDP), including Conwy. The local authorities sweat blood and tears in developing their plans but I believe developers drive a coach and horses through them.

"They can do it because technical planning advice from the Welsh government has enabled developers to cherry pick the best land.

In parallel with Mike’s efforts, Janet Finch-Saunders took up the cudgels and called for the controversial planning advice to be scrapped as it has put pressure on councils to push ahead with applications made on greenfield sites not identified for development in their LDPs.

She said: “The Welsh government has finally conceded its technical advice is putting planning authorities in tricky situations.

“We need to see the calculation method used for the advice to be scrapped."

She added: “I've been working with Conwy councillors and planning officers on this, because we've seen them with their hands tied behind their back when applications have come forward for land that was not designated for development in the LDP.

"I've also been driving the Welsh government to make these changes.”

“If we’re going to see further legislation in this area, it should be to prevent developers land banking.

"It shouldn't force councils to accept applications not wanted in their area because they are threatened with sanctions for missing their housing targets.

"We do need to build, but in the right places, those allocated under LDPs.”

Mike gave a local example added: “The planning refusal for the Sychnant Pass housing development was lost on appeal because the advice allowed it, yet the decision overrode policies to protect sites such as this.

“I was so frustrated at the system I decided to set up a petition to the Welsh government, and gathered more than 700 signatures on line from across Wales.

"As a result the minister for energy, planning and rural affairs, Lesley Griffiths, decided to alter the advice and ease the pressure on local planning authorities."

Mike added: “In practice this means the Welsh government is returning the decision making process about land use for housing back to local authorities and the people who know their communities best.

“I am delighted with this decision, a decision that gives back significant control to local democracy and planning committees.

“I feel the guidance has had a detrimental impact on our green fields and communities across not only Conwy but the whole of Wales.”