Work on city centre St David's redevelopment on track to begin in 2017

PROPOSALS to transform the St David's site with a new arena, hotel, shops and restaurants are on track, with Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart declaring: "This time next year we should be well into construction".

Wednesday 23rd November 2016

Image of the proposed St David's redevelopment, north of Oystermouth Road.

 

PROPOSALS to transform the St David's site with a new arena, hotel, shops and restaurants are on track, with Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart declaring: "This time next year we should be well into construction".

Mr Stewart and senior figures at development partners Rivington Land urged the public to have their say at the formal launch of a 12-week consultation.

They want people's input as to what should be built before submitting an outline planning application in March next year.

They were quizzed about the strength of demand among retailers but insisted that as yet unnamed companies were showing plenty of interest, while steps have been taken to find an arena operator.
"The people of Swansea have waited a very long time for the city they want," said Mr Stewart. "People don't mind pretty pictures, but they want to see things coming out of the ground."

He added: "We are 100 per cent committed to this."

Mr Stewart cautioned that developments of this "scale and complexity do not happen overnight", but reckoned the scheme — which comprises land on both sides of Oystermouth Road — would be completed in 2020.

The Swansea Labour leader also said he wanted to "uplift" the Quadrant Shopping Centre, which borders the northern edge of the development site, and work with bosses at the nearby Tesco supermarket.

It also emerged that facilities for Swansea University are being explored for St David's.

A boutique cinema with a drinks service is proposed at St David's.

John Laker, chairman of Rivington Land, said the company "had formulated our own opinion about what could work well" but insisted that public feedback was important.

"The next few weeks it's about what you think," he said.

Mr Laker said the current proposal envisaged a raised walkway crossing over Oystermouth Road, with a hotel of up to 13 storeys next to the arena on the south side, and a boutique cinema, shops, restaurants and apartments to the north. Parking would be provided on both sides.

Mr Laker suggested starting the work in 2018 and finishing in autumn 2020.

He said St Mary's Church and St David's Church would be respected, and that in no way did the retail development aim to replicate Wind Street.

He said Wind Street did what it did well, but added: "What we want to encourage is slightly better quality, more family-orientated restaurants to support the cinema and retail around it."

Lisa Hartley, Quadrant Shopping Centre manager, asked Mr Laker if there really was the demand, quoting a recent Property Week study of the UK's top 100 retail opportunities, which left Swansea out.

Mr Laker replied that Rivington Land had used a top research company to explore this, and that "demand was actually greater than we were showing in our original scheme", which was first outlined in January this year.

He added: "The conversations with developers we have had in the last few months have confirmed that."

Hotel (left) and arena proposed on south side of Oystermouth Road.

Mr Laker declined to mention names of interested retailers, but said the proposed architecture and landscaping for St David's would also be plus points for them.

Meanwhile, responding to a question about the implications of Brexit, Mr Stewart said the scheme was not contingent on any EU funding but that the vote to leave the union had created uncertainty in the markets.

He added: "It has not directly affected our scheme though."

The Welsh Government has provided £6.2 million to help get the St David's site ready for redevelopment.

David Lewis, chief executive of Rivington Land, said the model of public-private delivery being used for the St David's site was common these days, with councils mitigating some of the risks usually borne by the private sector.

"I could name 10 cities doing the same," he said.

Your views are being sought about what should be built at the St David's development site, which has been given a working title of Swansea Central for the time being.

You can check out the current proposals at a public exhibition next to New Look in St Mary's Square on December 1, 2 and 3.

A website is also now live at www.swanseacentral.info where people can share their views.

People are encouraged to visit the website or the exhibition, where they can see plans and complete a questionnaire or feedback cards. Other activities include consultation meetings during December with interested parties.

The council and a separate firm, Trebor Developments, also plan to redevelop the Civic Centre site. The two projects are expected to represent £500 million of investment. But the focus is on St David's for now.

More money could be levered in to the area via the proposed City Deal for the Swansea Bay City Region, which is due to be signed off or otherwise by the UK Government by next spring.


Read more at http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/new/story-29922061-detail/story.html#zkYfRQ7ERosyHKFE.99