Miners' leader scores victory with Mumbles chalet bid
THE miners' leader who gave a future to scores of pit workers believes a planning decision in his favour will help struggling families get on the property ladder.
Tyrone O'Sullivan has taken a big step in removing a restricted occupancy condition for his holiday chalet in Limeslade, Mumbles, meaning he and his wife can live there for 12 months of the year rather than 10.
The approval by Swansea councillors went against a recommendation by officers, although a separate committee of councillors will have the final say in due course.
A thumbs-up will add value to Mr O'Sullivan's chalet, which he calls a bungalow, but he insisted it met criteria for permanent residence and could now be bought in the future by a young family who could not afford otherwise to live in Mumbles and would not want to live anywhere for just 10 months per year.
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"I have to be pleased," said Mr O'Sullivan, who famously spearheaded a miners' buyout of Tower Colliery, Hirwaun, in 1994. "I love it down here. But it's not just about me and my wife.
"Some of these properties are suitable for starter homes. It's crazy they are not looked at as options for young families."
Mr O'Sullivan's property is one of 42 holiday chalets in Langcliffe Park.
The planning report that went before councillors said the restricted occupancy condition applied to all chalets in that part of Gower, which were mainly caravan and hut replacements.
The key issues in Mr O'Sullivan's case were whether his chalet was suitable for year- round occupation and what effect this would have on surrounding occupants.
Mr O'Sullivan bought the chalet for around £90,000 seven years ago, and has spent some £20,000 upgrading it.
The planning report warned that approval of the application "would set a precedent for the permanent occupation of chalets of a similar character in the area which the local authority would find difficult to resist". It added that valuable tourist accommodation would also be lost.
Mr O'Sullivan, who thanked ward councillor Tony Colburn for his advice, stressed he was not out to make a quick buck.
"It's important these (chalet) properties are available for first-time buyers," he said.
Mr Colburn said not all chalets were suitable as homes, and that any application to lift an occupancy condition would be treated on its own individual merits.