Residents of a Swansea village fear housing development will wipe out wildlife from local woodland

It's becoming a more common debate in Wales: the need to build affordable homes versus the need to protect green spaces from development.

But how does Wales avoid putting the environment at risk and provide the houses desperately needed?

Residents living in the Swansea village of Gowerton are in the midst of this dilemma. They say they would lose a precious piece of woodland if a housing development gets given the go ahead.

The build, which has been put forward by Persimmon Homes, could see 230 new houses built in the area, with the plans set to be scrutinised by Swansea's Council later this year.

Hedley Davies is one of the locals from the area and is concerned about the impact the proposed build would have on the area's environment.

"You've got trees here, you've got the birds singing, you've got foxes out here, you've got badgers apparently, all your wildlife is out here, so why destroy it?

Hedley Davies worries if the plans get given the green light, wildlife in the area will be significantly affected.

"There's going to be around 400 cars if you build that number of houses, so just imagine what it's going to be like, I dread to think. The surgery is full, the school is full."

Stephanie Hill from the area agrees. She's from the Save Gowerton From Gridlock group and says the infrastructure in the area won't be able to cope.

"Not only will we be losing this green space which is teeming with biodiversity but there's also going to be a dramatic increase in traffic in this area that just doesn't have the infrastructure to cope with it.

The nine-hectare site currently comes under Swansea's local development plan.

At present 1,040 homes need to be built in the city each year if it is to achieve its target of building 15,600 new properties over a 15 year period.

At the moment, only 507 homes are being built annually in the city.

The shortage of homes in Swansea appears to reflect much of Wales. According to the Welsh Government between 6,200 and 8,300 homes need to built each year if demand is to be kept up with - but it is a figure that's been missed over the past three years.

Local residents in Gowerton worry that the area's infrastructure won't be able to deal with higher amounts of traffic.

On the site in Gowerton, Persimmon says the build would improve local services and transport links as well as create new jobs.

A spokesperson from the business said: “Our proposed development in Gowerton would deliver 230 quality homes for local families and first-time buyers, giving local people the opportunity to remain in the area, as well as creating jobs and boosting the local economy.

“Our plans include significant community benefit such as a local transit hub which will enhance connectivity to Gowerton Station, through park and ride provision, and active travel infrastructure.

“Substantial investment would also be made available to improve local infrastructure and public services in the area, while a number of quality new homes would be transferred to a local housing association.

“We are in ongoing discussions with the local authority regarding our proposals and we look forward to continuing to engage with the local community, Swansea Council and Gowerton Community Council to deliver a scheme that benefits the local area.”

Persimmon has also said that a number of dwellings will be made available for social housing.

A five-week public consultation on the development took place last December.

Local residents will now have to wait to see what Swansea Council agree when they scrutinise the plans later this year.

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