A high-tech campaign has been launched to help bring £1bn of new investment to Swansea.
It harnesses the latest in virtual reality (VR) expertise to help convince global investors that the city is the place to live, work and enjoy a quality lifestyle.
Swansea Council wants to create a partnership with them to drive the city forward by developing seven key sites.
The Shaping Swansea campaign was launched by the council on March 4.
Event guests at the city’s National Waterfront Museum enjoyed a vision of the city’s future through goggles as a three-minute VR film walked them through the £135m Swansea Central Phase One project along with visions for how seven other strategic city centre sites could be developed.
Attendees included investors along with senior figures from major construction businesses, tech firms and universities.
Key council figures will take the presentation to the world’s biggest investor fair – Mipim 2020 – this summer. In due course, a formal procurement process will take place through Welsh Government portal Sell2Wales to secure the joint development partners. A project website will be launched.
Plans are also being made for the Swansea public to enjoy the VR film created for the council by city-based firm iCreate.
Those with VR goggles can enjoy the film now by searching “Future of Swansea VR” in the Vimeo app through their device or headset.
Council leader Rob Stewart said: “Swansea is seeing the biggest regeneration in a generation and we’re now on people’s Radars nationally and internationally.
“Our aim now is to prompt investors from here and abroad to join Swansea on its transformative journey over the coming years. We want top quality developers to be part of it.
“We want people to live in Swansea, work here and enjoy the opportunities we offer – our city by the sea is remodelling itself for the 21st century.
“Swansea is being re-shaped as a green, walkable city determined to achieve its great potential.”
The council is committed to delivering its vision for a city that is a vibrant, 24-hour, living, working and leisure destination.
It is already leading the delivery of a £135m investment in the city centre, including a 3,500-capacity indoor arena, a high-tech public square, ultrafast internet connections and a coastal park.
To support the growth of tech businesses, the council is leading on the delivery of high-quality employment space in a bespoke building on The Kingsway.
Both the arena and the bespoke building on Kingsway will be part-funded by the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal.
The Kingsway and its neighbouring roads are being transformed with a £12m investment.
The seven sites to follow are:
Swansea Central North. The council is leading the first stage of this mixed-use project; it includes a public sector hub to be occupied by the council, public sector and commercial tenants. The aim is to create a vibrant mix of contemporary uses to complement the hub and the surrounding city centre. This could include residential, commercial, retail and/or leisure. This second stage is intended to be delivered through the partnership.
Hafod Copperworks Site. This industrial heritage site presents an opportunity to create a major leisure destination, building on two existing projects which both have identified operators. A concept masterplan and associated business plan have been produced to create a significant leisure destination to be delivered by the partnership. This illustrates the two leisure uses already identified alongside complementary leisure facilities and potential residential units.
- Civic Centre Site. This significant site on the seafront near the city centre has expansive views over Swansea Bay. The intention is for the council’s offices to be relocated to the public sector hub within the Swansea Central North development, and for this site to be redeveloped as a residential-led mixed use development.
- Oxford Street Site. The site lies within the core city centre and is envisaged to become an employment-led mixed-use development.
- Sailbridge Site. This waterfront site next the Maritime Quarter Conservation Area has pedestrian access crossing the site to connect to SA1 via the landmark Sailbridge. The site would lend itself well to a mix of uses including high-quality residential.
- St Thomas Site. The council’s objective for this riverside former railway station site is to create a residential-led development within a high-quality environment, connecting the existing community of St Thomas to the city centre. The development will provide a key link between St Thomas and the city centre allowing a greater integration than currently exists.
- The Marina.The site – near the seafront Observatory – lies within the Maritime Quarter and is anticipated to become a high-quality residential development, with complementary commercial uses.
This is all reflected in the VR film and in an accompanying Shaping Swansea brochure.
Cllr Stewart said: “The next step to realising our ambition for the city centre is the formation of a partnership with an investor/developer who shares our vision, can deliver identified projects and can work with us to identify additional opportunities.
“To achieve our aims we’re working closely with the City Deal, the Welsh Government, the Secretary of State’s Office for Wales and the Western Gateway cross-border strategic partnership.
The Shaping Swansea launch was the public start of the process to select the partner investor/developer.
It follows the council’s attendance at last year’s Mipim when initial work was carried out on generating interest from global investors.