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Politics Swansea West Wales

Swansea housing development on strip of land between M4 and railway line approved

Felin Fran, Birchgrove, which is to be extended to provide access to a development of 20 new homes (Pic: Google Maps)

NEW houses are to be built on a strip of land between the M4 and a railway line with a high pressure gas main running through it, along with an acoustic barrier to help drown out traffic noise.

Nine members of the council’s planning committee voted in favour of the plans for Felin Fran, Birchgrove, with one councillor voting against. The objecting councillor, Mary Jones, said: “I honestly don’t think it’s the right place to put housing.”

The council’s planning department had recommended the 20-home development for approval. A report before the committee said Wales and West Utilities, which owned the gas pipeline, did not object to the proposal as long as no excavation took place within 10m of the structure without prior consultation. The report also said significant weight was attached to the fact that the site already outline planning permission for up to 20 houses. A new bridge will also be built across the Nant Bran near where Felin Fran joins Walters Road, which has bus services to Swansea city centre and to Morriston Hospital and Clydach.

There were two objections from the public on flooding, traffic, and gas pipeline grounds. Another worry was potential health impacts for future occupiers given the land’s proximity to the M4. A planning officer said the part of the site where access was proposed was in a flood zone but not the remainder.

He added that two of the 20 houses would be made available for social rent, and that ecological improvements within the site would be governed by a planning condition. The planning report said the railway and the M4 were “well screened by mature trees and this would not change as a result of the proposals”.

Referring to traffic noise, the planning officer said an embankment – with an acoustic fence potentially on top – was earmarked for part of the site between the motorway and the houses. He said it would continue northwards as an acoustic fence.

Cllr Jones said the area where just the acoustic fence was indicated it had some houses which were “practically sitting on the motorway”, and that she couldn’t see evidence of any vegetation acting as a further screen. She said she worried that the fence at this point might only be made of wood and that there could be young children living there.

The officer said details of the acoustic fence would have to be provided to and approved by the council before anyone lived in the houses. It would have to be at least 3m high, except by one of the plots, and of a certain density. “It’s not going to prevent all the noise – it will manage it to an acceptable level,” he said.