CONTENTIOUS housebuilding plans for Swansea’s Singleton Park have been put on hold while other options are explored.
The Labour administration has agreed to set up a cross-party group to consider viable ways of updating Home Farm, including the restoration of the grade two-listed farmhouse and other historic buildings.
The move neutralised a Liberal Democrat-Independent motion at full council on June 27, which cited “considerable public concern” at cabinet’s decision in April to seek expressions of interest in a 42-home scheme at Home Farm.
The opposition welcomed Labour’s amended motion recommending the new working group. It was passed after a short debate.
Cllr Mike Day said his Lib-Dem party acknowledged the council was “being stripped of resources” but felt that any plans to redevelop Home Farm must ensure “some beneficial use” for the public.
Although at an early stage, Labour’s proposals included the conversion of the listed farmhouse into residential units. New homes would also be built, taking the total to 42, a fifth of which would have been affordable.
Deputy leader Clive Lloyd said Home Farm was one of several council depots which could be closed, and pointed out that it was not currently accessible to the public. He said he was open to ideas about its future and the preservation of the old farmhouse, but stressed they had to be financially viable. Cllr Lloyd said Labour was “not wedded to housing” but had certain parameters for the site.
His cabinet colleague, councillor Andrea Lewis, said there was a considerable shortage of affordable housing in the wider Swansea West area, and that Home Farm was a brownfield site. She said she didn’t want to pre-empt the outcome of the work of the new group, which will report to cabinet within six months, but said: “I hope the working group strongly considers the delivery of some homes on that site.”
Councillor Robert Francis-Davies, whose cabinet brief includes heritage, said the old farmhouse was one of many listed buildings falling into disrepair in Swansea. It was easy to “oppose everything”, he said. “Let’s look at this sensibly and for the betterment of Swansea as a whole,” he said.
The administration has been at pains to say that its housebuilding proposals for Home Farm, which is accessed via a lane through a section of Singleton Park, would not encroach on any green space.
Lib-Dem group leader, Cllr Chris Holley, said some of Home Farm used to be open to the public. Referring to the new working group, he said: “I do think we should ask Friends of Singleton Park to be part of it.”
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Day and his Sketty colleague Cllr Cheryl Philpott said a petition urging the administration to reconsider its housebuilding proposal had gained more than 2,000 signatures.
They both welcomed Labour’s shift in direction.
Cllr Day said: “We look forward to cabinet being fully supportive of suggestions which means that Home Farm can continue to be enjoyed by future generations who can learn about the rich heritage Swansea has.”