Charity's ex-HQ set to make way for homes
A FORMER disability centre patronised by Catherine Zeta Jones will be turned into homes and flats if city planners give the scheme the go-ahead.
The Longfields day centre in West Cross closed in 2011 after the charity that ran it said it was no longer financially sustainable.
Now, under plans submitted to Swansea Council, the centre will be demolished to make way for 10 homes. A retained building at the Bethany Lane site will be converted into five self-contained flats, with garages and parking.
Six parking spaces will also be provided for the adjacent chapel.
West Cross councillor Mark Child said it was a shame that the Longfields centre, which catered for 30-plus people with learning and physical disabilities and employed around 20 staff, had closed.
He said: "It is important that provision for these people still exists in Swansea."
Asked about the planned redevelopment, he said it needed to be sympathetic to the environment.
Mr Child said he wondered if the scheme was big enough to warrant incorporating an affordable housing element.
"That is the biggest single issue I get in West Cross," said the cabinet member for wellbeing.
The planning application has been submitted by Longfields Properties LLP and Walsingham, the charity which ran the day centre after merging with the Longfields Association.
Swansea-born actress Catherine — a patron of the association — and her husband Michael Douglas made a five-figure donation in 2003 for a hydrotherapy pool at the unit.
Last year, Walsingham chief executive Paul Snell said it had carried out the merger with the "full intention of continuing and enhancing" the Longfields day service but that the losses were "too great".
A spokeswoman for the charity told the Post yesterday: "Walsingham is currently in the process of selling the Longfields site in West Cross.
"As part of this process, we have put in a joint application to Swansea Council regarding planning permission for redevelopment of the site.
"Under the terms of the merger between Walsingham and the Longfields Association in February 2010, the net proceeds of any sale of the Longfields site will be reinvested for the benefit of people with learning disabilities in the Swansea area.
"We believe that the reinvestment of the net proceeds will be an extremely positive move for people with learning disabilities in the Swansea area and we will work in partnership with the commissioning authorities to identify the best possible solutions."