Amazing News from Swansea!
May 1st Holtsfield, the community living under threat of eviction in wooden cottages on the outskirts of Swansea, today won its case in the House of Lords. Holtsfield is a model settlement for the 21st Century: mutually supportive, ecologically friendly, well respected by its neighbours. But the residents’ homes have no foundations – they are bolted onto concrete plinths. As a result they count in law as no more than garden furniture.
In 1989, Tim Jones, a solicitor and property developer, bought the land. Though some of the residents had been there for 40 years or more, he began proceedings to evict them. Virtually the whole of Swansea came out against him, with Swansea Rugby Club and the local nightclub bouncers squaring up to the bailiffs, but his case in law appeared to be unassailable. The residents lost in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Earlier this year, they marched all the way from Swansea to Westminster to draw attention to their plight.
The House of Lords ruling is one of the most significant landrights victories in Britain this decade, as it overrules what is effectively a relic of the feudal system: the absolute rights of the landlord to the ground beneath his tenants’ homes. It could have significant implications for gypsies, travellers and some low impact settlers, though it would be wise to study the case carefully before jumping to conclusions.
One caveat: the case covered only about half the families at Holtsfield. Mr Jones still has proceedings pending against the rest, and could try to evict at any time. So watch this space.