A couple living next to one of Wales’ biggest gypsy travellers’ caravan sites are demolishing their home after failing to find anyone to buy the property.
Phil and Kathleen Lacey put their lavish four-bedroom Cardiff bungalow on the market for £450,000 to downsize as their grown-up children moved out.
But the couple now plan to flatten their house, located next to a travellers’ site in Shirenewton, and set up their own caravan plot after being unable to find suitable buyers.
The couple said it was disappointing that househunters felt unable to live next to gypsy travellers.
But they now hope their private site will be of benefit to the travelling community.
Travellers at the Shirenewton site yesterday welcomed the plans, but claimed househunters’ lack of interest showed the level of “racism” towards their community.
Mr Lacey, 54, a ground work contractor, said: “We can’t sell it because of the locality of it.
“We had a lot of responses because it’s a lovely house, but obviously I think living next to the caravan site, nobody fancied it really.
“If this place was anywhere else bar this site, it would probably be worth £750,000, but it’s ‘location location’, which is disappointing.”
The Laceys put their lavish Wentloog Avenue home – which contains four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a large sun room overlooking picturesque countryside – up for sale last year.
But they have now submitted plans to demolish it and construct 11 caravan plots, including concrete hardstandings and amenity blocks.
They hope to manage the one-acre site and rent private plots to the travelling community.
The couple stressed that they were not moving because of any trouble or conflict with the neighbouring gypsy community.
Mr Lacey said: “We don’t want anybody to think we are leaving here because of the travellers, because they will always be friends of ours.”
The dad of four, who runs family firm PE Lacey Groundwork Contractors Ltd, added: “We have had 25 years here – if we had a problem, we would have moved ages ago.”
The Shirenewton caravan site was first reserved for travellers in 1985. The Cardiff council-run site accommodates about 300 residents on 55 hard-standing units.
The site has been extended several times over the past few decades, while further caravan plots have emerged on neighbouring sites.
One traveller said Shirenewton easily needed double the number of sites already available.
Speaking about house buyers’ lack of interest in the neighbouring bungalow site, another traveller branded it as “racism”.
The mum of two said: “People are never going to change their minds, because it has been like that for the last hundred years.”
But she welcomed the plans to build new caravan sites in the area.
She said: “They can build thousands of houses for country people.
“So why can’t they build sites for travellers?”
The caravan site plans will be discussed by Cardiff council later this year.