ONE billion is a number which crops up in speeches and press releases from the leader of Swansea Council, Rob Stewart, from time to time.
It’s the amount of public and private money flowing into projects in the city, he has said.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked for a breakdown of this £1 billion, and whether the projects involved were public, private and under way or planned.
The projects listed below have a total value of £1.18 billion, and don’t include the new library and community hub building at the former BHS store in Oxford Street, a number of purpose-built student accommodation schemes, the proposed Blue Eden battery, housing and lagoon project, or the planned Swansea Bay and West Wales Metro.
Cllr Stewart said much had already been achieved to boost Swansea’s economy, create jobs and raise the city’s profile.
“This is a time of unprecedented regeneration in Swansea, with major public and private sector investment transforming our city into one of the UK’s best places to live, work, study and visit.”
Here the projects, in descending order of value:
Comprises plans to regenerate seven plots of land:
Civic Centre site;
Swansea Central North – land north of Oystermouth Road from St David’s multi-storey car park up towards St Mary’s Church;
riverside land in St Thomas near the northernmost Tawe bridge;
land at the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks site; the Sailbridge site between East Burrows Road and the rear of Sainsbury’s;
maritime quarter land next to the former Marina Towers Observatory; and
plot on Oxford Street which has a car park.
£750 million is the estimated value of all the sites once operational. Project to be substantially funded by the private sector. Regeneration company Urban Splash appointed as the council’s development partner.
The council said early proposals were being drawn up in more detail and that the public would have a chance to help shape the final plans. It looks likely that Swansea Central North, the Civic Centre – potentially featuring an interactive aquarium – and the St Thomas riverside site will be the frontrunners. Shaping Swansea is two decade-long project.
Comprising Swansea Arena, the adjacent coastal park, parking underneath, the yellow bridge across Oystermouth Road and flats and commercial units the other side.
The £135 million cost has required £96 million of council borrowing at low interest rates. This will be paid back over 40 years, with total borrowing costs just under £173 million. Funding will also come from the sale of the flats, a Welsh Government loan, and a contribution via the city deal for the Swansea Bay City Region.
The arena, coastal park and bridge are complete but there is still work to do on the remaining elements, although the flats will be handed over very shortly to social housing provider Pobl Group.
Mariner Street student development:
Featuring a 17-storey tower and 780 bed spaces opposite Swansea railway station. Has a courtyard and ground floor commercial space.
This is a £50 million completed private sector project.
71/72 The Kingsway:
Featuring modern office space, a roof terrace and greenery at the former Oceana nightclub site. It will link through to Oxford Street, and is expected to provide space for 600 jobs.
The £40 million cost, said the council, is coming from the city deal, with support from the European regional development fund through the Welsh Government.
Work is underway and the contractor is Bouygues UK. The council hopes the building will be open next year.
An adventure park featuring gondola rides up Kilvey Hill – most likely from land at Landore – with luge runs, zip lines, a sky swing and hill-top viewing platform.
Skyline is a private sector project put forward by New Zealand-based Skyline Enterprises but the council said the £38 million scheme cost could, if approved, include Welsh Government and council contributions.
Skyline Enterprises said in March that it was in the final stages of due diligience and that it aimed for the visitor attraction to open in 2025.
A new building replacing the former Woolworth’s store on Oxford Street incorporating 44 upper floor flats and an “urban farm”, with commercial space underneath and below that retail and educational/exhibition areas. Its highest section will be 12 storeys.
A£20 million, funded by Hacer Developments with support via the Welsh Government’s innovate housing programme grant scheme. Hacer Development’s managing director Carwyn Davies said the Welsh Government had been “absolutely brilliant”.
Work got under way several months ago and the foundations are in. The aim is for completion towards the end of next year.
The one-way city centre street reverting back to two-way, wider pavements, more seating and greenery. Orchard Street and Christina Street also underwent changes.
£12 million project, funded by the council with support from the European regional development fund through the Welsh Government.
The project is complete. It took longer than planned due to the original construction company going into administration.
Castle Square Gardens:
The largely stone square will have more trees than currently, with lawned areas, flowerbeds and a water jet feature. There will be two commercial buildings, which could both be divided in two and have cafe or retail use with outside seating.
A £10 million, to be funded by the council and Welsh Government.
Planning application is due to be submitted this year, and the council has said the new-look square could be up and running in late 2023.
Palace Theatre Restoration:
Major constriction work to rescue what was until recently a privately-owned listed building from further dereliction. Will result in modern office accommodation.
Cost is £8.5 million, paid for by the council with support from the European regional development fund and via the Welsh Government’s transforming towns programme.
The restoration is under way and the project is due for completion early to mid-2023.
Albert Hall Restoration:
The derelict building on the corner of Craddock Street and De-La-Beche Street will be turned into a live music venue, with office and business space also in the mix.
A£8m project funded by from the private sector and work is underway
Hafod Morfa Copperworks:
Restoration of old buildings at the former industrial site by the River Tawe, not far from the Swansea.com Stadium, and the creation of a Penderyn whisky distillery and visitor attraction.
A£7.5 million project, funded by the council, National Lottery heritage fund and Welsh Government’s transforming towns programme.
Restoration work is well under way. The council said Penderyn aims to open its attraction by spring next year.
Wind Street Upgrade:
The city’s party street is now pedestrianised, and has more outdoor dining and seating space and more greenery.
The upgrade costed £3 million, paid for by the council with support from Welsh Government’s targeted regeneration initiative. Project completed
A new market garden area at the indoor market, plus upgraded toilets.
The work costed £439,000, funded by the council.
The market garden and toilet work has been carried out, and the council said new entrances and improved wi-fi were planned.
Carwyn Davies, managing director of Hacer Developments, which is behind the Biophilic Living building on Oxford Street, said investors wanted to see Swansea improve and that public sector-led projects like the new arena were key drivers in raising land values.
Mr Davies said sites which grew in value became “viable investment opportunities”. He added:
“I’d also stress it has to be a partnership between the public and private sectors.”
A Swansea-based developer who has seen the city’s fortunes ebb and flow since the 1960s said he felt the regeneration over the last five years or so was on a greater scale than anything over the last 20 years.
“It has taken Rob (Stewart) time, but these things do take time,” said the man, who asked not to be named. “He has injected a new dynamism into the city that I don’t think it has seen since the 70s. We had lost our way.
“It’s just a shame that we haven’t got the 10 or so construction companies that we used to have.”
He added: “The Skyline development would open a whole new dynamic for the city.”
The Labour administration’s level of borrowing to fund Copr Bay has come under scrutiny at times, and it remains to be seen how much of the Shaping Swansea programme comes to fruition, but the city is clearly undergoing a significant period of change.