Swansea will celebrate a landmark occasion this week as construction work starts on one of the city centre’s biggest ever transformation schemes – the complex with a 3,500-capacity digital arena at its heart.
Work teams and excavators will move onto Wellington Street to take the first physical steps in helping Swansea Council deliver phase one of the vast Swansea Central project.
By the end of 2020 phase one of the £200m development – either side of Oystermouth Road taking in the LC car park and St Mary’s car park and bordering buildings such as Tesco, St David’s Church and the LC – will have a stunning new look.
It will boast the hi-tech arena, beach park, digital plaza, “gateway” landmark bridge over the main road, new car parking, affordable private homes and new commercial space. Phase two will follow, bringing a mix of enhanced new retail, restaurants and leisure.
The radical transformation, being driven by Swansea Council, will forever strengthen the links between city centre and waterfront.
Council leader Rob Stewart said:
“It’s great to see work finally get under way on this transformational project.
“Swansea Central Phase One will be a world-class development, creating jobs, boosting the economy of Swansea and delivering a one-of-a-kind arena with aspects not seen in the UK before. Local residents and businesses will soon see a transformed city centre that is a truly great place to spend time, live, work and enjoy.
“A hugely positive transformation is already under way in The Kingsway area, Orchard Street and High Street. The Kingsway will soon have a people-friendly urban park and a business-friendly hi-tech digital village, and shortly we will be appointing a partner to deliver a new look and more green space for Castle Square Gardens.”
Outline planning permission has already been granted for Swansea Central Phase One, and public feedback during consultations was extremely positive with over 85% of people welcoming the plans. A detailed planning application is due to be published this month (note: August) and the final stunning designs and a cinematic fly-through will be released to the public shortly.
The indoor arena, digital square and digital village are due to be part-funded by the Swansea Bay City Deal, a £1.3bn investment in 11 projects across South West Wales being funded by the UK Government, the Welsh Government, the public sector and the private sector.
The work taking place in Wellington Street – between Tesco and the Quadrant multi-story car park – will facilitate the construction of the eye catching wider Swansea Central works. This initial change will bring two-way traffic to that road, an improved junction with Albert Row and a new, improved Wellington Street traffic access to Tesco.
The Tesco car park, Quadrant car park and St Mary’s Car Park in St David’s Place will remain open throughout the Wellington Street works.
The bus station’s taxi rank will remain open; buses that use the Wellington Street bus stops will continue to do so for the time being. The bus stops may be relocated temporarily nearby during the works.
The council’s delivery team responsible for these enabling works – including Rivington Land and project managers Padstone – have agreed the detailed design with the council’s highways and landscaping department. They have met officials of the Quadrant, Debenhams, and Tesco to discuss the work – before appointing the Swansea Highways Partnership to undertake the work.
The plan is to work on the north side of Wellington Street and Albert Row junction from August to mid-November and on Tesco and the south side of Wellington Street from early January to April. The work will take a planned break to allow for the busy Christmas shopping period.
Cllr Stewart said:
“I thank motorists, pedestrians and businesses for their understanding as we undertake this important work.
“Our contractors will be working hard to maintain access to important locations such as the car parks as straightforward as possible and keep any disruption to a minimum.
“During these exciting changes we are working with business to ensure Swansea remains open and remains a great place to visit.”
Rivington Land, appointed by the council, is development manager for Swansea Central Phase One.
Director Spencer Winter said:
“These are the first steps in a carefully considered delivery programme aimed at giving the main works the best possible start next year.
“The need to undertake these works at this stage will help support nearby businesses in the future stages of construction.
“We are working with prospective main contractors to look at the best options for completing the larger part of the construction work and will be able to make further announcements about these works in due course”.
Alex Murray, senior project manager with Padstone, said:
“We are looking forward to getting this very exciting project started on site.”