A NUMBER of state-of-the-art projects forming part of the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal investment in South West Wales are expected to be approved in coming months.
Business cases for eight of the 11 major projects forming part of the City Deal have now been submitted to the UK and Welsh Governments for approval.
This is among the progress that’s been made since the Prime Minister signed the City Deal in a visit to Swansea last March.
Expected to boost the regional economy by £1.8bn and create 10,000 jobs over the next 15 years, the City Deal includes funding from the UK and Welsh Governments, the public sector and the private sector.
Aimed at revolutionising the way sectors like energy, life sciences, the creative industries and manufacturing are delivered across the Swansea Bay City Region, the City Deal will include major investment in world class digital infrastructure, as well as a Skills and Talent initiative that will give local young people a pathway in schools and colleges to access the high-quality jobs that will be opened up.
The Swansea City and Waterfront Digital District, the ‘Yr Egin’ creative digital cluster in Carmarthen, and the Life Science and Wellbeing Village in Llanelli are among the projects that business cases have now been submitted for.
Cllr Rob Stewart, Lead Leader for the Swansea Bay City Region, said: “The signing of the City Deal for the Swansea Bay City Region was an historic moment for South West Wales.
“This unprecedented investment has the power to transform people’s lives, thanks to a combination of innovative, exciting developments that will all be supported by the ‘golden thread’ skills and next generation digital infrastructure projects throughout the region.
“Since the City Deal was signed, an exhaustive amount of work has been taking place behind the scenes. This includes the preparation and submission of eight of the 11 project business cases for approval to both governments, with the first sign-offs expected by the early spring.
“Work is already well under way at ‘Yr Egin’ in Carmarthen, site preparation works have started at Delta Lakes in Llanelli for the Life Science and Wellbeing Village, and we’ll soon be appointing a contractor to build Swansea’s digital indoor arena, which forms part of City Deal investment in the city. This shows how confident we are of business case approvals, with details now being finalised for business cases that haven’t yet been submitted.
“On a project by project basis, we can start drawing down the City Deal investment that’s been secured once individual business case approvals are in place.”
The City Deal will be overseen by a Joint Committee, made up of senior representatives from participating councils, health boards and universities.
Paving the way for the body to be formally established, a Joint Committee Agreement report that will outline principles of working is expected to be considered by all four regional councils in coming weeks.
Cllr Stewart said: “We’ve been regularly meeting in shadow format so we’re in a position to hit the ground running once the Joint Committee is in place.
“In coming weeks, we’ll also be appointing a chairman for the City Deal’s Economic Strategy Board from the private sector, which will maximise the impact of the City Deal by engaging with businesses across the City Region.
“This considerable amount of work involves representatives from the four City Region councils, the Welsh Government, the UK Government, universities, other partners and representatives from the private sector, who are all 100% committed to delivery as soon as possible. This is a complicated, timely process, but it’s vitally important we get it right for the benefit of people across South West Wales in coming years.”
Planned for Delta Lakes, Llanelli’s Life Science and Wellbeing Village will include new sport and leisure facilities, business and research opportunities, education and training, as well as health and wellbeing services and assisted living accommodation set within an attractive lakeside environment.
Along with a 3,500-capacity digital indoor arena, Swansea’s City and Waterfront Digital District will include a digital square, a new city centre business district, and incubation spaces and co-working areas for start-ups and small businesses.
In Pembrokeshire, plans include a world-leading centre for the development and testing of wave and tidal energy devices.
A Homes as Power Stations scheme will also be introduced across the City Region, allowing homes and buildings to generate, store and release their own energy, which will tackle fuel poverty by helping residents save money on their energy bills.
In Neath Port Talbot, a ‘Factory of the Future’ initiative will place the City Region at the heart of global digital manufacturing innovation.
A UK National Steel Innovation Centre is also planned to address the current and future challenges of sustaining steel-making capacity in the region and the UK. This will follow First Minister Carwyn Jones opening the first phase of a Steel and Metals Institute at Swansea University earlier this month in an event also attended by Bimlendra Jha, Tata Steel UK’s Chief Executive Officer. A research and innovation collaboration between Tata Steel and Swansea University, engineers at the Institute will be working on a range of new materials to meet the emerging need for next-generation steels for hybrid and electric cars, energy-efficient homes and buildings, and innovative food packaging.
Cllr Stewart said: “These projects will combine to transform Swansea Bay’s economic fortunes. Right across Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, City Deal investment will benefit people of all ages in years to come.”