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New council strategy will help deliver a greener Swansea

Their ideas and thoughts, gathered through public consultation this year, have been woven into Regenerating our City for Wellbeing and Wildlife, a draft Swansea city centre green infrastructure strategy.

It aims to help deliver:

  • a greener city, with fewer hard surfaces, to help create a city centre that is a more attractive place in which to live and more resilient to climate change;
  • more use of nature to provide space for wildlife, bring people pleasure and offer an improved experience for visitors and traders.

The strategy – developed by Swansea Council, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the Green Infrastructure Consultancy – will be presented to the council’s cabinet on October 17.

Members will be asked to agree that it now goes out for public consultation.

Green infrastructure is a term used to describe all the features of the natural environment between and within our towns and cities.

The strategy sets out a vision for the central area of Swansea to be much greener.

It promotes a joined-up approach to incorporating green infrastructure in future city centre regeneration work.

The intention is to double the amount of green infrastructure within 10 years, to create a high quality environment better adapted to climate change and better for people and wildlife.

It also aims to help the city centre be a more economically prosperous hub for the region in years to come by encouraging strategically planned green infrastructure enhancements in new and existing developments.

The strategy explores the benefits and cost-effectiveness of green infrastructure in terms of flood-risk reduction, cleaner air and water, reductions in noise, gains in biodiversity and reduced CO2 emissions.

Robert Francis-Davies, cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “Hundreds of members of the public have fed into the creation of this exciting strategy – I thank them for their valuable input.

“The overwhelming message from our public engagement was that city nature is important to people; it increases their enjoyment and the time they spend in the city centre.

“This strategy sets out a vision for central Swansea to be much greener, creating green spaces and using a combination of street-level features like street trees and rain gardens as well as vegetation on buildings, including green roofs and green walls. The intention is to double the amount of green infrastructure within 10 years.”

Mark Thomas, cabinet member for environment and infrastructure management, said: “As a council we are committed to maintaining and enhancing Swansea’s natural resources and biodiversity.

“This new strategy – and the public views that have fed into it – will help us deliver on our commitments and create a greener city.

“It will help developers improve the city centre by bringing nature into their developments. This will create spaces people want to visit and improve wellbeing, the economy and the environment.”

Martyn Evans, head of South Wales operations for NRW, said: “We’re excited that this strategy has benefitted from not just the ideas and advice of specialists but that the local community has had a chance to have their say on the kind of green city they want to see.

“Green infrastructure provides an opportunity for Swansea to bring nature into the heart of the city and widen its appeal to residents and visitors alike. This will bring multiple benefits, such as boosting biodiversity and improving climate change resilience.

“This project will give us the opportunity to create a vibrant city that improves the wellbeing of residents and visitors, whilst making a home for wildlife.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of this project and look forward to working with our partners to bring these ideas to life.”

Swansea city centre is undergoing major regeneration, including a £12m upgrade of The Kingsway area and the development of the £120m Swansea Central Phase One scheme which will include a 3,500-capacity digital arena.

Other major projects are planned – and the new strategy will guide developers on how nature can be integrated into their designs.

The arena scheme will see a new coastal parkland created above a multi-story car park.

The Kingsway project will see 170 new trees planted and previous developments such as Westway and the Boulevard also brought large numbers of new trees into the city centre.

The community engagement programme this year included pop-up sessions in the city centre and activity on social media.

Once adopted, the Green Infrastructure Strategy will complement the council’s Swansea Central Area Regeneration Framework (SCARF), the Welsh Government’s Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Environment (Wales) Act 2016.

The strategy aligns with the council’s corporate priority to maintain and enhance Swansea’s natural resources and biodiversity.