No interest in affordable bungalows in Laugharne

TWO affordable homes in one of Carmarthenshire’s most affluent towns aren’t generating any interest, according to a developer which wants to sell them on the open market to help pay for playing field improvements nearby.

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The bungalows were built as part of a development of 24 three and four-bedroom houses in Pludds Meadow, Laugharne. Fifteen of the other houses have sold for £310,000 to £550,000, according to a viability assessment submitted to Carmarthenshire Council. It said buyers for the affordable bungalows had been lined up on two occasions but didn’t proceed, and that despite being marketed there had been no further interest.

The assessment by property specialists Avison Young didn’t say how much the affordable bungalows were on sale for, or what the qualifying requirements were for occupiers. The document is part of a detailed planning application by a local company called Sancler 3 Ltd to extend and improve a playing field by another of its Laugharne developments, with outline planning consent also sought for a new sports clubhouse, an extension at Laugharne VCP School, plus a new all-weather sports pitch and car park.

Sancler 3 Ltd said it was facing additional “abnormal costs” relating to this other development – a 42-home estate on Clos Hugdon – particularly a requirement to build a sustainable drainage system. It has also bought the nearby playing field and has agreed to extend a footpath, meaning it was keen to sell the two three-bedroom bungalows on Pludds Meadow on the open market to recoup some of these extra costs.

Furthermore, to try to achieve financial viability, it also wants to omit a requirement for 13 affordable homes at the under-construction Clos Hugdon site. “Doing so will offset the financial burden placed upon our client by purchasing the land needed to deliver the proposals and undertaking the engineering operations to extend the playing field,” said an Avison Young letter to the council’s planning department.

The plan is to widen the playing field area by 154m and lengthen it by 22m, which would require a hedge to be dug up and relocated and a power line to be rerouted. The playing field hosts Laugharne rugby and cricket clubs and is run and maintained by a group called Laugharne Athletic Club. Scores of people have expressed their support, saying the proposal would greatly improve sporting and recreational facilities and benefit the community and primary school.

The athletic club is writing to Laugharne Township Community Council urging it to back Sancler 3 Ltd’s planning application and to notify the county council of its support. The letter said the proposal was “well balanced and benefits all concerned” while acknowledging it would require an affordable housing trade-off.

Sancler 3 Ltd’s planning application has attracted around 200 comments from the public. One of those who commented, George Phillips, said he had been a member of the rugby club for more than 50 years. “During this period the club has never had security of tenure sufficient for us to apply for grant funding to improve the facilities at the rugby field,” he said. “This is about to change with the new owners of the ground, Sancler, agreeing to support Laugharne Athletic Club to the extent that we will be able to apply for grant funding. I cannot stress enough the importance of granting this application, which will secure the sporting and leisure facilities for the children and people of Laugharne for generations to come.”

Another Laugharne resident, Belina Haley, said: “The sports field is the only place in Laugharne for kids and adults alike to play rugby plus many other sports. Take that away and there’s nothing.”

Construction work continues on the 42 homes at Clos Hugdon, with prices ranging from £435,000 to £615,000 for four and five-bed homes respectively. Thirteen of the properties will be three-bedroom.

An estate agent who’s not connected to the Sancler 3 Ltd application said coastal communities like Laugharne and Llansteffan, which had a higher proportion of holiday homes than the rest of Carmarthenshire, had their own “mini” housing market. Prices, she said, were generally higher than the rest of the county. “We’ve got a few properties on the market in Laugharne – some are getting interest, some aren’t,” she said. “It might be that people are spoilt for choice.”

There is also huge demand for affordable and social housing in Carmarthenshire and across Wales due to rising rent costs, relatively high interest rates and cost-of-living pressures. The county’s housing waiting list currently stands at more than 4,000, with around half of those classed as being in high priority need. Planning officers at the council are assessing Sancler 3 Ltd’s application.

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