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Security scare for our Zeta

Oct 31 2004

Leah Oatway, Wales on Sunday

 

YOU COULD be living next door to Catherine Zeta-Jones if Swansea council rubber-stamps a massive new housing estate on her 1.5m doorstep.

Plans for the controversial 42-home development on the site of a former Mumbles cliff-top caravan park have been recommended for approval after a site visit by councillors on Tuesday.

If they get the go-ahead, it will give ordinary families the chance to be neighbours with the Hollywood superstar, who is fiercely protective of her privacy.

The council-owned site off Plunch Lane overlooks picturesque Limeslade Bay and is just a few hundred yards from Catherine and hubbie Michael Douglas' luxury pad.

Although the couple have not objected to the plans, 158 other people have.

The Taylor Woodrow estate will contain two, three and four-bedroomed detached, semi-detached and terraced houses, as well as three flats above garages. Developers say the homes will use natural slate and double Roman concrete roof tiles and warm red brick walls.

Prices are not available until the development is finalised but a recent four-bedroomed estate, built by the same developers at Pont Carreg, Newport, range from 183,000 and 295,000.

Typically, Taylor Woodrow homes come with fully-fitted kitchens, vinyl floors and wall tiles as standard. Bathrooms are white with a choice of wall tiles, bedrooms come with fitted wardrobes and gardens are turfed.

The homes are designed with families in mind and half of the proposed properties have double garages.

Developers say they hope the site at Plunch Lane will have an "exclusive" feel.

A spokesman for Taylor Woodrow said: "While we cannot give more detail about the site before approval next week, we are aware of the high-profile houses in the surrounding area and are confident the development will be very popular given its location."

But residents fear the estate will clog up an already congested area - a claim council highway officers have dismissed. They also believe the site will ruin the skyline.

Local Roger Rees, of nearby Rosser's Field, wrote: "The original outline planning approval was for 32 dwellings which I regarded as being too large a development for this area, let alone 42 houses."

But despite his concerns, the plans are expected to be approved, subject to improved visibility on Plunch Lane at the proposed estate road and agreement being reached on the height, design and materials of the homes.

A site visit has been arranged for city councillors on Tuesday, aimed at giving them a better idea of the site, and the application will be reported back to committee on November 16.

The Oscar-winning actress' family have said they know nothing about the development but privately the star is likely to be concerned about her safety.

Since buying the 1.5m luxury pad at the exclusive three-home Silverhurst estate, The Terminal star has been at the centre of several high-profile security scares.

At the beginning of September, the 34-year-old actress was the target of a kidnap attempt while filming The Legend of Zorro with Antonio Banderas in Mexico.

The mum of four-year-old Dylan and one-year-old Carys is also the focus of a court case in the US. Alleged stalker Dawnette Knight is said to have threatened to kill Catherine after becoming obsessed with her 58-year-old husband.

And in March this year Catherine's parents lost a privacy dispute with neighbour Steve Gwynn, who won the right to run his telecommunications business Carreras Communications from his home.

But local Labour councillor Desmond Thomas, who sits on Swansea council's planning committee, believes affordable new homes are more important than worrying about privacy.

He said: "This area has seen house prices rocket and there's no hope for young people, who have been brought up in Mumbles, to get on the property ladder here. This is probably the last chance we'll get to see new houses built in Mumbles for the foreseeable future, due to the shortage of available land, and while the plan is very likely to go ahead it's up to the committee to look after the community and ensure developers don't overcharge."

 
 

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