The regeneration of the Swansea region has been announced as the headline topic at this year’s Swansea Conference on March 29. The conference’s opening session at 9.30am in Swansea Arena will be a Swansea Region Regeneration Update featuring speakers including council leader Rob Stewart, Debbie Green, Chief Executive of Coastal Housing, Professor Elwen Evans from Swansea University, and Tonia and Ian Morgan from contractor Morganstone.
The session will cover recent milestones including the opening of Swansea Arena, the new bridge over Oystermouth Road, the neighbouring coastal park, the completion of a £3m improvement of Wind Street, and improvements to The Kingsway.
It will also look ahead to completion of schemes such as the Penderyn Whisky visitor centre and at Hafod Morfa Copperworks site, the construction of the new five-storey, modern and flexible office development at 71/72 Kingsway, and the revamp of the copperworks site by Swansea contractors John Weaver on behalf of the council.
Discussing what’s on the session agenda, Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart said: “The council has recently secured £20m from the UK Government as part of its Levelling Up programme. This will be invested in a Lower Swansea Valley improvement project focused on the restoration of more heritage features at the Hafod Morfa Copperworks site, improving links between the River Tawe and city centre with the copperworks site, and the upgrade and enhancement of Swansea Museum.”
He added that the 71/72 Kingsway scheme is worth £32.6m a year to Swansea’s economy. It will be a carbon zero in operation, with Bouygues UK on site as the main contractor as construction continues.
Discussing the regeneration of Swansea city centre, Russell Greenslade, Chief Executive of Swansea Business Improvement District said:
“The vision and pace of the regeneration efforts in Swansea is impressive. To us existing City centre businesses, and to future investors, spend and foot flow are key, and so the developments that are underway and planned for more offices and accommodations are key to delivering these wants and needs that will grow the economy and vibrancy through more businesses that will create more jobs.
“The pandemic has emphasised the importance of mixed-use, including the increased need for leisure and public spaces for the entire community to enjoy, which is what is being delivered and planned.”
Cllr Stewart added that as well as schemes due for completion this year, many others will make significant progress.
“These include the on-going transformation of the Palace Theatre building, plans for the revamp of Castle Square Gardens and the start of work on site to transform the former BHS building into a community hub,” he said.
“What this public sector investment has done is attract significant private sector-led investment in the city too, with examples including the innovative and ground-breaking Hacer Developments ‘living building’ scheme in the Picton Yard area, where construction is on-going on a mix of office, residential and education space.”
The council’s regeneration partners Urban Splash will also be making more progress in the coming months on plans to transform sites in the city centre and on the seafront.
“These plans combine to show a real confidence to invest in Swansea, which will mean better facilities and more jobs for local people and visitors to the city,” said Cllr Stewart.
Other ongoing schemes include the private sector-led transformation of the Albert Hall building into an 800-capacity entertainment venue and new spaces for lifestyle businesses and offices.
“Both of these projects are being assisted with funding from the European Regional Development Fund and the Welsh Government, via the Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns programme,” said Cllr Stewart. “Local investment company Kartay Holdings, meanwhile, recently acquired six key Oxford Street properties – between Barclays Bank and the former H Samuel Jewellers – with a view to revitalising a main shopping artery of the city centre.”
He added: “We’re no longer a city of artists’ impressions that come to nothing, and this focus on delivery for the benefit of our residents and businesses will continue this year and beyond.”
Cllr Stewart, who is also the Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Deal’s Joint Committee, said:
“The Swansea Bay City Deal is also playing an important role in the regeneration of Swansea and the wider region, helping to fund Swansea Arena, as well as other key developments such as the 71/72 Kingsway building.
“These are just two of a number of projects aimed at breathing new life into Swansea city centre by attracting more visitors and footfall and creating more well-paid job opportunities in the heart of the city.
“There are a lot of other exciting milestones for the City Deal in 2023, which will further benefit Swansea and the region. These include major construction work on the Pentre Awel leisure and business facilities in Llanelli, significant progress on the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Innovation Matrix project at SA1 in Swansea, and the formal opening of the Bay Technology Centre in Neath Port Talbot.”
Greenslade said that he hopes the Swansea Conference will help crystallise the vision for Swansea’s future.
“The conference will get the city behind its city centre and truly champion the amazing transformation happening here that will benefit us and generations to come,” he said.
Zoe Antrobus, founder and managing director of 4theRegion, which delivers the conference, added:
“The opening session of this year’s conference will definitely inspire pride in our city. It will highlight the local contractors and businesses involved in regenerating the city and include exciting new announcements for what lies ahead. It’s an important opportunity to get a full view of the ongoing transformation of Swansea.”
Anyone interested in exhibiting at the Swansea Conference can contact Zoe Antrobus: [email protected]