Leslie Southam, 53, and his parents live in one of only three homes still occupied on a previously bustling Brynmefys estate in Wales which is now being reclaimed by nature
A man living in a house amid a crumbling estate abandoned to nature says he is past caring and the world will end in seven years anyway.
Hotel cleaner Leslie Southam lives with his elderly parents in a red-brick home kept with pride in the middle of Brynmefys, an estate a couple of miles from Llanelli town centre.
The family have lived there since the mid 1970s when it was a bustling community but the remaining homes couldn’t be further from Leslie’s childhood memories.
The attached property is being swallowed by a tree, its door boarded up and its windowsills decaying, reports WalesOnline.
He believes that we are in “the last days” before Jesus Christ’s return to Earth and the apocalypse.
“The way things are going, it’s only going to be seven years at most,” he told WalesOnline.
It is one of 29 properties in a similar — or worse — condition on the estate, which began emptying in the 1980s as the council floated plans to develop the area.
Carcasses of homes are rotting, roofs collapsing, nature taking back the land and windows smashed.
The streets are fenced off in places and have piles of rubbish dumped elsewhere, while the sign for the abandoned community hall rusts and fades.
Leslie, 53, was born in Cardigan and moved to Brynmefys with his English parents aged seven.
Their home is now one of only three on the estate still occupied. A couple of cars parked on the road are a reminder of life.
Leslie said: “To be honest it’s quite nice here. It’s quiet. My mum’s 80 and my dad’s 79. They like it here. I am past caring. I don’t think anything will ever be done.
“Carmarthenshire council have been doing the same thing over and over for years. They seem to get money for this and that, then it disappears. We’ve had lots of different schemes but nothing has ever been done. And it’s ended up like this.”
He says he doesn’t really miss the Brynmefys of his childhood, an estate “absolutely full with cars and people and children”.
While remembering the estate of yesteryear and explaining the current situation Leslie says there is another reason he has given up on development plans – he believes the world will end in seven years.
When he explains why his dad bought their home under Right to Buy in 1986 he says: “He was buying it for the plot rather than the house. It was either rent for the rest of your life or buy this. He got it for almost nothing. You wouldn’t even buy a car for it.”
After the scheme to redevelop the estate fell through in the late 80s many homes were derelict and unfit for renting.
Thanks to a grant in the 90s Leslie’s family were able to make key renovations to theirs but many other occupied houses were also falling into disrepair.
His and the two other households on the estate live in privately owned homes but the land Brtnmefys is built on is council-owned.
The estate is in Carmarthenshire, the county with the most empty homes in Wales (almost 3,000) but also the fastest rising house prices, which surged by 23 per cent to £183,129 in the year to March.
But the council has repeatedly failed to sell the estate and plans for developments have fallen through.
Now a protected species of bats occupy many of the homes making demolition a tough task. A full report on the scale of the problem is due in January.
The sewage network is also not up to scratch and fixing it would require buying out the current owners.
But the council’s offers have been rejected despite the fact Leslie says his parents would consider selling “for the right price”.
Media coverage of the estate has led to an influx of teenagers who turn up in cars thinking the area may be haunted. Fences with ‘danger – keep out’ warnings pinned to them have been erected as a result.
Leslie said: “For some reason kids in their late teens were always turning up thinking there were ghosts here. They would come in their cars on weekends and try to get into the houses. Now a security guard waits here at night every weekend.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.