There has been speculation recently, particularly on social media, on supposed plans by the Council to ‘build on Singleton Park’. After the June Council meeting, you may have heard that Singleton park had been ‘saved’ and the Council leadership forced into a ‘change of tack’.
Both parts of this story are untrue.
The park was not ‘saved’ from being built on, because that was never going to happen. The leadership hasn’t changed tack, they are simply making it clear that discussion is welcome.
The Home Farm Depot is a council site adjoining Singleton Park. It is not green space; it is a brownfield site, “currently home to hardstanding, buildings in a poor condition, parking space for large vehicles and storage space provided by shipping containers”, as explained in these online FAQs. The Council is seeking development partners for the site, to raise much needed money and to restore beautiful historic buildings. A Public Information Notice explains a proposal to create 42 homes on this site (20 within existing buildings, some historical and listed, and 22 new builds in keeping with the others) although no decision has been taken by the Council as yet.
Any proposals for the repurposing of the existing council compound would need to ensure the restoration of the cottages and historic buildings, and also be entirely contained within the compound with no impact on the trees or curtilage of the surrounding parkland.
Opposition councillors have been telling people that the council plans to build on Singleton Park. They brought a motion on the subject to the Council meeting. However, they sensibly accepted an amendment supported by the Labour group which commits the Leader to setting up a cross-party working group to consider ‘viable options’ for repurposing the Depot. There will be the ‘widest possible discussion’, to include the recently formed Friends group.
In the debate on the Home Farm motion, everyone agreed that it would be important to get as much value out of the site as possible, in order to save the listed buildings, as well as to fund council services in the face of Tory government cuts. Some of the suggestions mentioned by opposition members cannot create enough revenue to do that. Those who have whipped up negativity in the community about this idea may well end up having to U-turn.
The democratic health of all Councils depends on an active, effective opposition which will scrutinise the cabinet’s decisions and hold it to account.
However, is it responsible opposition to scare-monger, make people feel angry, frightened and victimized … and then claim credit for somehow stopping something that was never going to happen in the first place?
Unfortunately, a facebook post can travel three times round Swansea before the truth has been able to put its boots on.
Text of the motion on Home Farm passed by June council:
We note Cabinet has authorised the publication of Prior Information Notices (PIN) in respect of a number of sites owned by the Council. We note the suggestion that Home Farm is one of the sites listed on the Sell2Wales Websites.
We further note that the description states that the Council is seeking partners “to maximise site value and in securing developers profits from market led residential, commercial and mixed use proposals…” and that the PIN continues:
“Home Farm Singleton Park – Currently a 42 unit scheme potentially including 20% affordable housing supported by Planning Pre-Application response.”
Council notes initial feedback from residents following publication of the PIN and the recent formation of the Friends of Singleton Park Group. It therefore calls upon Cabinet to have the widest possible discussions around other suitable and appropriate uses for Home Farm Depot, which are consistent with its location. We request the Leader to set up a cross party working group to consider viable options for the repurposing of the Home Farm Depot which should report to Cabinet within the next 6 months.