Trouble in 'Arcadia' as developers move in

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The Independent Online

The first two families at Holt's Field, a rural hamlet near Swansea, were evicted yesterday by a property developer who wants to knock down their homes and build an executive housing estate.

Holt's Field, on the Gower Peninsula, has been the subject of a series of bitter legal wrangles for the past six years. The ground under the hamlet of 27 chalets, which has been compared to Arcadia, the legendary Greek idyll, was bought by a property development company in 1989.

Elitestone wanted to demolish the chalets to redevelop the hamlet. The company was refused planning permission by Swansea City Council, lost on appeal to the Welsh Office, and also in the High Court.

But Tim Jones, director of Elitestone, decided to press on and evict the people from their homes. After another series of court battles, Elitestone won the right to evict them as trespassers.

More than 50 police, bailiffs and security guards arrived to evict the people from the first five chalets shortly before 8am yesterday. The residents had installed trip wires linked to an alarm system to alert them of approaching bailiffs but they managed to cut through them without triggering the system.

After the police, bailiffs and security guards left, a team of carpenters arrived to repair the chalets and friendly squatters moved in to the homes.

One resident, Will Sked, said they were now planning their resistance and seeking legal advice to try to prevent the squatters from being evicted.