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Home Farm depot proposal - FAQs

Here are some FAQs about our proposal to transform the council depot at Home Farm, Sketty, into an accessible area preserved for future generations.

HomeFarmYard

Q. Why housing? Why not put it to other uses?

A. We are proposing to introduce a small number of homes within the current boundary of the depot because the income generated will enable the Grade II listed building to be renewed. It will also enable social housing to feature as part of the project. At a time when the UK Government's austerity agenda requires us to make £70m of savings in the next few years, this is a cost-effective way to ensure there are community benefits coming out of the scheme.

Q. Why not simply demolish it all - and return it to parkland?

A. The former farmhouse at the centre of the depot, currently used as an office, is Grade II listed. It cannot be demolished and, under the proposed scheme, will be restored instead.

Q. Won't the new housing create more traffic problems?

A. The depot, which is already very busy with frequent HGV movements in and out of the compound, will be closing. However, as part of preliminary investigations, the level of traffic has been assessed and will be comparable or indeed less than it is currently.

Q. Are you simply seeking to sell to the highest bidder?

A. We are investigating a proposal for the Council to be more involved as a development partner to ensure maximum financial return. However, any income generated will ensure that some of the properties will be dedicated to social housing and the Grade II listed building will be restored to its former glory.

Q. Why not allow only social/council housing on the site?

A. An affordable housing element will be a condition of the site's joint venture agreement in line with the council's housing and planning policies.

Q. How come only expensive homes will be built?

A. That won't be the case. Affordable housing will be a condition of the land's joint venture agreement and its development.

Q. Does this mean there'll be further encroachment on the park?

A. No, there won't. The only changes will be to the area which is currently home to hardstanding, buildings in a poor condition, parking space for large vehicles and storage space provided by shipping containers.

Q. Why not restore the site as a community farm or turn it into a part of the Singleton Park landscape?

A. The site has not been a farm since before it was purchased by the local authority many years ago. The site is brownfield and much of it is laid to concrete hardstanding. Turning it into a community farm would not be financially viable and would mean the opportunity to restore the Grade II listed building would be lost.

Q. Are you allowed to do this? Wasn't the land bequeathed to the community by the Glynn Vivian family?

A. This is not true. The deeds have been checked and the land was purchased from the Glynn Vivian family, not bequeathed by them. There were no conditions attached to the sale at the time. The former County Borough of Swansea bought Home Farm from Glynn Vivian family on August  16, 1920, at a market value. There were no special conditions as to how Home Farm should or could be used. Since then its uses have included a dogs home and a council works depot which is how it operates today. We still have a document that details the 1920 sale and purchase of the land.

Q. Won't housing restrict the ability to have events in Singleton Park if new residents object?

A. This will be dealt with as part of the sale of the property so that events will be able to continue in Singleton Park in the way they always have and in accordance with the council's events policy for the park.

Q. What about the views of the public? Don't they count?

A. Yes, such views are really important to us. No firm decision has yet been made - and public consultation will take place once any planning application is submitted in the usual manner.

Q. How does this instance tie in with how the council manages its assets?

A. We work within our Council Asset Management Plan.

Q. You say that Home Farm will have "sensitively developed housing." What do you mean by this?

A. Home Farm is not green space or a park - it has historic buildings and is a works depot with an industrial use. Any development would improve the immediate local environment. Right now, we are investigating future uses - just as we are reviewing all our other depot sites. The usual planning process will be followed for any potential development and all existing buildings will be protected. There is no decision yet. We'll invest any returns back into council services and, for that reason, we must do our best to maximise any returns.  

Q. isn't Home Farm part of Singleton Park?

A. No. The boundary of Home Farm - currently comprising stone walls and high palisade security metal fencing - is a formal boundary with the park. No homes would be built outside the existing metal fence. Although Home Farm did form part of the original Singleton Estate, it is not part of Singleton Park.

Q. Is there really space to develop 42 homes at Home Farm?

A. Our initial scoping for the site shows that there is ample room for the homes we propose at this very early stage. Around 20 residential units would be in converted and improved existing stone buildings there, including the grade two listed farmhouse, the former stable block, the former grain store, the former engine house, the former cowshed and former farm cottages. Others - around 22 - would be new-build properties, their style in keeping with the existing historic structures. 

Q. Would the new homes be suitable only for wealthy people?

A. No. A proportion would be what is known as affordable homes - that is, they would be available to local people at a cost which they can afford rather than the local open market rates. The counci's housing and development management teams would be involved in safeguarding this approach.

Q. Isn't this just the council getting greedy?

A. No. The council needs money to run services for all its residents; our services include social services, education, road maintenance, waste collection and council housing. Most of that money comes from the council tax and from government funding - but that latter annual funding has fallen significantly in the past few years. To make up for that substantial shortfall we need to become increasingly commercial in our approach - without that services would be threatened. One way of doing that is making the land we own deliver more revenue. Moving the council depot away from Home Farm and working with a partner to produce ongoing revenue from housing there would be an efficient way of generating such revenue.  This approach will also be in accordance with the Local Government Act 1972 concerning obligations to generate best value for council assets.

 

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