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Inside the new Swansea arena as it begins to take shape

Outside the steel framework of Swansea Central Phase One’s 3,500-capacity arena are, from left, Gareth Morgan, of main contractor Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd, Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart and Welsh Government Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James.

The Swansea skyline has changed forever as massive steel skeletons of the city’s new indoor arena and allied buildings have been completed.

Credit: Swansea Council

Work on the frames of the £135m Swansea Central Phase One site began to rise in late April.

Now, just four months later, the arena framework is up on the former Oystermouth Road car park along with the framework of a multi-storey car park on the opposite side of the road. The latter towers over the neighbouring Quadrant multi-storey.

On the main road side of the multi-storey is another tall structure that will offer new homes and commercial space. Next to the arena work is advancing on a two-storey car park that will be topped with a large expanse of coastal-themed parkland, complete with a pavilion-style food and drink venue.

The two sides of the complex will be linked by a spectacular new landmark bridge taking pedestrians and cyclists over the main road.

Inside and around the steel framework of Swansea Central Phase One.

Among the first to see the completed steelwork up close were council leader Rob Stewart and Welsh Government Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James.

Inside and around the steel framework of Swansea Central Phase One.

Cllr Rob Stewart said: “It’s wonderful to have seen the skyline evolving over the past few months.

“Progress is being made swiftly with this scheme that will help transform Swansea. And it’s all being done against the backdrop of a pandemic that has seen on-site personnel work to rigorous new safety standards.

“Something special is emerging from this key site. We’ve always said the arena is a key catalyst to regenerate Swansea and the region, and now – post-lockdown – it will be an even more key icon and catalyst for recovery.

“I thank the workers there – including many from South Wales and the steel frame specialists themselves – for making progress whilst working to latest guidelines. They have kept this significant scheme safe and advancing well at this difficult time.”

MS Julie James said: “I feel privileged to have had a tour of the new Swansea arena and its surroundings.

“A really impressive amount of work has gone on during the pandemic and it’s fantastic to see the progress up close.

“I also got a sneak preview of the metal panels that will clad the building and be studded with tens of thousands of LED light bulbs.

“I’m delighted that the Welsh Government has been able to support Swansea Council in bringing this development to the people of Swansea. I’m really looking forward to it opening.”

The arena is part of the council’s £135m Swansea Central Phase One transformation scheme which includes almost 1,000 parking spaces. It is all due to open in the second half of next year.

Work on the arena site by main contractor Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd (BGCL) has continued during the recent period of restrictions, in line with Government and industry guidance which allows construction to continue.

Tim Wood, BGCL’s project director on site, said: “It was good to see hundreds of tons of steel going up so swiftly, efficiently and safely. The framework is a highly visible and positive step in this incredible project.

“Now, with the steel framework complete, we’re focusing on other key aspects of the build phase such as roofing and cladding. In due course, the arena’s external skin will be covered in tens of thousands of LED lights – it’ll be some landmark!”

Cllr Stewart said: “The arena scheme is a transformational regeneration project that’s key to delivering a 21st Century Swansea. Once the crisis is over we will all be able to enjoy it.

“Swansea is no longer a city of artists’ impressions; it’s once again a city of creativity, ambition and hope. We’re not just creating a new skyline, but jobs homes and a destination. Swansea is becoming a place where people choose to work, live and enjoy.

“It’s good to see firms from Wales and elsewhere benefiting from the investment by working on site and acting as suppliers to Buckingham. I’m grateful them for their continuing efforts in Swansea.”

Swansea Council is behind the Swansea Central Phase One, with some funding for the arena coming from the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal. Some funding for the new bridge comes from the Welsh Government’s Active Travel Fund.