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Over 1,000 homes should be built in Swansea each year – why are so few being completed?

24 Dec 2021 7 minutes Read
Image of part of Persimmon Homes’ planned housing development on land north of Garden Village, Swansea (image courtesy of Persimmon Homes).

Richard Youle, local democracy reporter

Every year 1,040 new homes should be built on average in Swansea, according the county’s development blueprint, but fewer than half have been completed.

The 1,040 figure is from Swansea’s local development plan (LDP) – a policy which sets out where 15,600 houses and flats should go over a 15-year period.

The LDP came into force in 2019 although, and this sounds strange, it covers the period 2010-25.

Forget that retrospective element for a moment, what’s more interesting is to look at how many homes have been completed year by year.

In 2010-11, when the UK was still emerging from the 2008 financial crash, only 314 were built in Swansea.

It soared the following year to 844 and has fluctuated between ever since – averaging out at 507.

“We continue to massively under-supply housing in Wales and the providers of all types of homes – private or affordable – are faced with a growing number of constraints,” said Mark Harris, of the Home Builders Federation, a trade group.

Swansea’s LDP has estimated a surge in house-building up to 2025 – peaking at 2,806 new homes in 2024-25.

That could be good news for first-time buyers as boosting supply ought to dampen down house price inflation.

The reason behind the expected rise in construction activity was the designation of 12 large-scale housing sites in the LDP in 2019.

These 12 sites were forecast to deliver 7,109 new homes by the end of 2025, and more beyond. But, in part because of Covid, only 4,584 of them are expected to be finished during the LDP period, according to a council report.

Many of the 12 sites are in the north and north-west of the county, and the idea is that the developers which build there also help deliver roads, cycle paths, green spaces, playgrounds and, in a few cases, schools.

Affordable homes are also part of the mix.

The largest site is a 140-hectare chunk of land west of Llangyfelach Road and Swansea Road, Llangyfelach, where 1,950 new homes are planned in the years ahead.

Progress would appear to be limited on the 12 sites in terms of bricklayers, carpenters and plasterers being on site, but the council expects the house-building sector to recover and push on.

Revised

Here is an update from the council, and others, on nine of the 12 sites.

Land north of Mynydd Bach Common and west of Llangyfelach Road, Llangyfelach.

Number of new homes originally estimated for completion in the LDP period, 1088. Revised figure, 670.

The scheme has outline planning consent, and a detailed application is currently being considered for the first phase, comprising 471 homes. Dialogue between the planning authority and developer Llanmoor Homes, said the council, was “detailed and positive”.

It is anticipated that the application will be determined early in the new year.

Land north of Garden Village.

Number of new homes estimated in the LDP period, 700. Revised figure, 440.

Has outline and detailed planning consent. Construction expected to start soon. Developer Persimmon Homes said it was working through the final planning considerations with the council before starting on site. The scheme, it said, would include just over 140 affordable homes, a primary school, wildlife areas and better pedestrian access to Gorseinon town centre.

Land south of the A4240, Penllergaer.

Number of new homes estimated in the LDP period, 644. Revised figure, 470.

Has outline permission, and also detailed consent for the first 184 homes. Construction, said the council, expected to start imminently.

Land north-west of junction 46 of the M4, near Felindre.

Number of new homes estimated in the LDP period, 565. Revised figure, 200.

Outline planning consent for this project, called Pentre Felindre, is still being considered.

The applicant is the Welsh Government, and a spokeswoman said it was working on a masterplan with its joint venture partners and the council, and commissioning updated technical reports.

She said: “If the plans go through, we want it to be a place where people will choose to live, work and spend their leisure time, and which will complement the adjoining business park of emerging industries, high-tech manufacturing and other employers.”

Land north of Waunarlwydd and Fforestfach.

Number of new homes estimated in the LDP period, 716. Revised figure, 425.

Confidential pre-application work being undertaken.

Land south of Glanffrwd Road, Pontarddulais.

Number of new homes estimated in the LDP period, 486. Revised figure, 270.

Confidential pre-application work being undertaken.

Land north of Clasement Road, Morriston.

Number of new homes estimated in the LDP period, 490. Revised figure, 200.

Confidential pre-application work being undertaken.

Land at Cefn Coed Hospital, Cockett.

Number of new homes estimated in the LDP period, 371. Revised figure, 273.

Confidential pre-application work undertaken in 2020-21 in preparation for a planning application to come forward.

Swansea central area.

Number of new homes estimated in the LDP period, 856. Revised figure, 827.

A total of 52 apartments have been completed as part of an upgrade of Orchard House, off Orchard Street.

This area also identifies commercial and leisure developments, such as the Copr Bay scheme either side of Oystermouth Road, near the LC, which includes 33 flats.

The other three large sites are Swansea Vale, the Fabian Way corridor, and the Tawe riverside corridor and Hafod-Morfa Copperworks area. Again the completion figures have been revised downwards.

‘Massive issue’

The council said it felt good progress was being made in general on the 12 sites, but acknowledged delays had occurred.

“In particular the strategic sites have taken longer than originally anticipated to progress to a stage that will enable delivery of homes on site, given their complexity,” it said.

But the authority said house-building was expected to recover and increase as the country emerged from the pandemic.

The loss of land for new homes and the resulting increase in traffic is an emotive subject.

There have been many objections to large housing developments.

Cllr Gareth Sullivan, who represents Llangyfelach, said: “I appreciate that housing is needed, but if there is a large-scale development at Mynydd Bach Common the traffic generated on Swansea Road is going to be phenomenal.”

Penllergaer ward councillor Wendy Fitzgerald said: “The overriding thing, apart of the environmental impact – the loss of green wedge land and hedgerows – is the traffic and the road infrastructure. This is a massive issue.”

Developers have to get their schemes through planning, which includes ensuring the housing estates are not just rows of buildings but places where residents would want to live, work and exercise. Good access to public transport is another consideration.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked Persimmon Homes, Bellway Homes and Llanmoor Homes, which have schemes approved or being considered for some of the 12 large sites, what challenges they were facing – but none answered at the time of going to press.

‘Viability’

With a booming property market – average house prices rose by 12% in Swansea between June 2020 and June 2021 according to the Office for National Statistics – you might expect housebuilders to be gung ho about their prospects in Wales.

But Mr Harris, of the Home Builders Federation, dialled down expectation levels.

He said a shortage of planning and highways officers in Wales was delaying new homes, and that updated drainage requirements were also slowing the process.

Mr Harris said some councils didn’t have enough land allocated for housing, while others were reducing it because the latest Welsh Government forecasts indicated that fewer new homes were needed than previously thought.

Mr Harris said the level of demand and interest in new properties would suggest the opposite.

Meanwhile, housing will need to play its part in Wales’s drive to becoming a net zero country in terms of carbon emissions by 2050.

“New homes are already significantly more energy-efficient and so cheaper to run than existing homes, and the industry is absolutely committed to going further,” said Mr Harris.

“But as we introduce environmental policies, alongside the raft of other regulatory requirements currently being proposed, the Government needs to be aware that the total additional costs will have an impact on site viability.”


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Grayham Jones
6 months ago

As long they are only for welsh people and not incomers

Danny Beanyknife
Danny Beanyknife
6 months ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

If you question to be ridiculous xenophobia on here, Ifan Bach blocks your IP address and deletes your comments.

However they allow Hdavies15 to glorify the murder of English schoolchildren and allow her to go one posting.

I am personally glad they allow Grayham Jones on as it is good to see the calibre of prolific poster they attract.

YesCymru, the National and Plaid’s lack of success at the ballot box just shows how fundamentally bigoted and toothless the whole movement is

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