Formal negotiations which could result in hundreds of new houses on a large site in Swansea will take place between council chiefs and two housebuilders. Cabinet members approved the step at a meeting, with one of those present saying the sooner more houses are built the better.

The council owns two parcels of land with a combined area of 83 acres west of Fforestfach and north of Waunarlwydd, near the former Alcoa factory site. These two parcels are part of a much bigger tract of land - which has various other owners - that has been been allocated for housing, a primary school, community building, commercial units and other employment facilities.

A cabinet report said two national housebuilders were interested in the council-owned parcels of land, and negotiations could lead to "option" agreements with one or both of them. This is an arrangement giving companies the option of buying land at a future date at an independently-verified market value. Cllr David Hopkins, cabinet member for corporate services and performance, said the council intended to get best value and a future sale price would probably exceed £1 million. He said he would bring back a further report to cabinet in due course.

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The council allocated the large tract of land, which its parcels are part of, as a strategic development site five years ago. The aim was for 716 new houses to be built by the end of 2025 and a further 603 in the years after that. The site stretches west to Gowerton, and last year Persimmon Homes submitted a planning application to the council for up to 230 homes at this western portion.

The cabinet report said the strategic development site was complicated by environmental issues such as flooding and the number of owners involved. It said the two interested housebuilders had been in discussions or were in the process of entering contractual arrangements with some of the other existing landowners, which made it more sensible for the council to explore a potential sale with them rather than market their parcels to other developers.

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies welcomed the council's plan of action. "Lots of people in Swansea are desperate for new houses and the sooner we can get them built the better," he said. A recent council committee meeting heard that Swansea has nearly 8,000 people on its housing waiting list.

But one resident who lives close to the development land under discussion by cabinet said its existing semi-rural character would be gone forever if hundreds of new homes are built. She added: "I have a small area of running water, Afon Llian, that runs between our property and our neighbours'. It runs fast and high during or immediately after heavy rain. If we develop on all our free land, there will be nowhere for rain to soak away." She said she also concerned by an increase in traffic if large-scale housing went ahead. "Many homes that house a couple, together with their adolescents, often have three vehicles," she said.