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Two national builders keen on council-owned land for housing development

Housebuilding picture (Pic: Pixabay)

TWO national housebuilders are interested in a large area of land owned by Swansea Council and talks between the three parties could be taken forward, a report said.

The council owns 83 acres west of Fforestfach and north of Waunarlwydd. It’s part of a much larger site which has been allocated for just over 1,300 houses, a primary school, commercial units and other employment facilities.

A report going before cabinet on March 21 has recommended that negotiations with the two unnamed housebuilders proceed. This may lead to an “option” agreement, which is an arrangement giving companies the option of buying land at a future date at an independently-verified market value.

“Option agreements provide contractual certainty to developers, who are reluctant to invest heavily in site investigations, planning costs, and professional fees without knowing that they will be able to secure the land, after their time, effort and money have been invested,” said the report.

The 83 acres of council-owned land are split into two parcels, with one housebuilder said to be interested in both of them and the other keen on just one of them.

The larger area they’re part of has been earmarked for housing and employment under Swansea’s local development plan. The aim was that 716 houses would be built by the end of 2025 with a further 603 in the years after that.

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The report said the land has multiple owners, and constraints such as flooding issues, but added that the two housebuilders had secured option agreements with adjoining landowners or were in advanced talks with them.

“This results in there being little or no merit in this council attempting to market and sell its land holdings on the open market to any other purchaser(s),” it said. The matter is being brought to cabinet as it’s likely a sales price would exceed a £1 million threshold.

The land allocated for the housing and employment development stretches west to Gowerton, and last year Persimmon Homes submitted a planning application to the council for up to 230 homes at this western portion. Access would be via Fairwood Road.

The land is one of 12 large sites in Swansea which were earmarked for substantial house-building by 2025 and beyond, but the actual completion of new homes is considerably behind schedule at present.

A report last October said 6,315 houses and flats had been built in Swansea between 2010 and the end of March 2023. The target is 15,600 new homes between 2010 and the end of 2025. Councillors were told that other parts of Wales were also behind schedule, for reasons such as the Covid pandemic, labour supply challenges, rising materials’ costs, and new legislative requirements such as sustainable drainage and biodiversity improvements.

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