I fled the Nazis as a child, I didn’t expect to be forced out of my home again: Polish woman pleads to save Welsh village from demolition due to proposed housing development
A Polish woman who fled the Nazis as a child has pleaded to save her Welsh village from demolition as it now faces a ‘threat’ from a proposed housing development.
Maria Owsianka, 90, was forced to flee her home in Warsaw, Poland as a child, but now fears she will have to once again up and move into a new estate – this time without the support and communal facilities at her current home in the Penrhos Polish Village in Gwynedd, Wales.
She said: ‘We all came to Penrhos at the end of our lives in the expectation of a safe haven. We did not expect to be forced out of our homes yet again.’
Mrs Owsianka is among the elderly residents at Penrhos Polish Village (often referred to as the Polish Home).
Currently, a planning application has been put forward to be considered by Gwynedd’s planning committee on October 23 for permission to demolish all the existing dwellings, meeting rooms, hairdressing salon, launderette and staff offices.
New houses may be constructed, but there is no provision in the application for the replacement of the communal facilities or of the premises for support staff.
This innovative care village, which now provides homes for those from Polish, Welsh, or other backgrounds who need extra care, would be replaced with a housing scheme.
Maria Owsianka, 90, a Polish woman who fled the Nazis as a child, has pleaded to save her Welsh village from demolition as it now faces a ‘threat’ from a proposed housing development
Mrs Owsianka currently lives in a terraced bungalow in the Penrhos Polish Village in Gwynedd, which she says is ‘perfect’ for her and her husband’s ‘needs’
Mrs Owsianka said: ‘I moved here with my husband five years ago to live closer to my family. We have a lovely terraced bungalow which is perfect for our needs.
‘I’m devastated that this planning application proposes the demolition of the village. There are people in Penrhos Polish Village who, as children, were evicted from their homes by the Soviets and sent to Siberia.
‘I was thrown out of my home, aged 11, with what I could carry, while the Nazis burned Warsaw to the ground. We all came to Penrhos at the end of our lives in the expectation of a safe haven.
‘We did not expect to be forced out of our homes yet again. We’ve been saying this for two years, but Clwyd Alyn haven’t listened.
‘We hope that Gwynedd councillors will listen now. There’s plenty of room to build new homes on the site of the old barracks which haven’t been lived in for years, without demolishing the newer units where people still live.
‘We have meeting rooms for exercise classes and other social get-togethers and we rely on our support staff for everything from arranging medical appointments to carrying out minor repairs.
‘If we lose these facilities and services, as we will if this development goes ahead, we will have lost all that is good about this place, which was lovingly built up over 70 years.
Gwynedd Council has recently published a document setting out its Vision and Priorities for the redevelopment of the site. The vision is to maintain and build on the existing ethos of the Polish Village and develop the site as a much needed community environment to meet the care needs of older people and people with disabilities.
Campaigners say its proposed new care home and a range of communal facilities such meeting spaces, shop, therapy rooms are a ‘commendable vision’.
But Mrs Owsianka and others believe that this vision has yet to be translated into a ‘firm plan’ and funding has yet to be secured to deliver the care home and associated facilities.
Penrhos Polish Village in Pwllheli was founded in 1949 by the Polish Housing Society Ltd. It housed exiled Polish airmen and soldiers who remained in the UK following World War Two.
Penrhos Polish Village is owned and managed by ClwydAlyn Housing Association (CHA) who took over from the Polish Housing Society (PHS) Ltd in 2020. PHS had owned, operated and developed the site for 70 years.
ClwydAlyn Housing Association have been contacted for comment.
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