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Swansea residents fighting plan to build bungalows on green land

WORRIED residents are fighting plans by Swansea Council to build bungalows on a green patch of land at the back of their houses.

They said the enclosed field in West Cross is valued by people living on Cedar Crescent, Elmgrove Road and Linden Avenue, which surround it.

Planning permission for four houses and a bungalow was turned down by the council in 2002, because officers said it would result in the loss of a valuable area of public open space.

Now the council, which owns the land, wants to build three pairs of semi-detached bungalows there to help tackle the shortage of social housing in Swansea West.

A design and access statement submitted as part of the application said the site was vacant brownfield land. The application form said it was unused, maintained geen space.

Paul Morris, of Cedar Crescent, said the field was home to slow worms, butterflies and toads, among other wildlife.

“As a community area, it contributes to the health, both physical and mental, wellbeing of many who live nearby,” said the 64-year-old.

“It is a safe haven for children to play in and generations have grown up using the field for so many things.”

Mr Morris said he felt the proposal went against a council commitment to maintain and enhance Swansea’s natural environment and biodiversity.

“I think they (the council) are going to have a fight on their hands,” he said.

Beth Fisher, also of Cedar Crescent, said residents would like to improve the field.

“We’d love to maintain it as a community allotment, or have a wildlife area,” she said.

Mrs Fisher said she was concerned that work on a proposed access to the field for the planned bungalows was already under way.

Most of the houses surrounding the green space have back garden entrances leading onto it, but residents were told earlier this year they did not have planning permission for this direct access.

Mrs Fisher said the back entrances had been there for decades in some cases, and that the council ought to have known about them because a small number of the houses were still council-owned.

She said she had spent time growing up in a council house – and both she and Mr Morris stressed they were not against social housing.

But Mrs Fisher said she wouldn’t have bought her house if she’d known that bungalows with gardens abutting hers would be built.

“Not in a million years,” she said.

The bungalows are designed to be very energy-efficient, with walk-in showers which can accommodate a wheelchair. Access would be via a lane off Cedar Crescent.

Other residents have emailed objections to the council, including a Cedar Crescent couple who said: “We have lived at this address for the last 34 years and have watched our children and others playing in the field, it was a great comfort to be able (and still is) to watch and keep an eye on them knowing that they were safe with their parents able to look on.

“This field has been the centre of the West Cross community for the last 70 years and should remain as such for generations to come.”

West Cross councillor Mark Child said there was a great need for affordable and social housing, and that two women from the area had approached him to ask if they might be able to downsize from their larger council houses to the new bungalows.

He also said he’d had a “frank exchange of views” with objectors, but said there was always a need to balance people’s wish for open space with housing need.

In response to the concerns raised by Mr Morris and Mrs Fisher,  a council spokesman said it had previously identified several sites on council-owned housing land where new council homes could be developed.

“A planning application has now been submitted for six properties on housing land in West Cross,” he said.  “In addition, a grant bid has also been submitted to enable these properties to benefit from energy-saving technology.

“Residents have the opportunity to comment on the current planning application prior to it being determined.”

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