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New project to bring empty Swansea units back into use

A number of empty units in the city centre and Swansea’s district shopping centres will be brought back into temporary use, thanks to a new project.

Creative regeneration agency Urban Foundry will deliver the ‘Meanwhile Spaces’ project in partnership with Swansea Council. Funding for the work has been awarded through the UK Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Opportunities will be provided for new independent businesses as part of the project, as well as local food and craft producers, social enterprises and pop-up arts and cultural activities.

As well as empty commercial buildings in Swansea city centre, the project will also focus on vacant units in the district shopping centres of Morriston, Pontarddulais, Clydach, Gorseinon, Mumbles, Uplands and Sketty.

It’s hoped the temporary uses will also give businesses and organisations taking part the opportunity to show their potential for longer-term lets, helping further reduce the number of empty commercial premises in Swansea.

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism, said: “Even before the pandemic, factors like online shopping and out-of-town shopping centres had led to falling footfall and empty units in the city centre and elsewhere in Swansea.

“Although these factors are outside our control, we’ve been doing all we can as a council to create more vibrant shopping areas with examples including an ongoing investment programme in the city centre that’s worth over £1bn.

“Led by Urban Foundry, the Meanwhile Spaces project will add value to everything the council is doing by introducing temporary uses in a number of empty units not just in the city centre but in other parts of Swansea too.

“It will encourage innovation, give new businesses a platform to grow and create more vibrancy, while also supporting existing businesses by increasing footfall.”

Dr Ben Reynolds, Urban Foundry director and founder, said: “Our Pop-Up Wales project seeks to find uses that not only fill empty spaces but also add value to their surroundings – boosting footfall and dwell time, and improving perceptions of the local area, which other businesses nearby can then benefit from.

“Research into meanwhile spaces elsewhere, including our own previous meanwhile projects, has shown that meanwhile uses also make it more likely that spaces will go to longer-term commercial lets. We’re very excited to be able to deliver more of these spaces in Swansea in 2024 thanks to this initiative.”

Urban Foundry is looking to bring 11 units back into use by November 2024.