Monday, 14 September 2009

Area of special character proposed for city centre

Exciting plans to regenerate the area around the western end of Oxford Street and West Way in Swansea city centre could soon take a step forward.

Swansea Council's Cabinet is being asked to approve the principles of a feasibility study called the Picton Lanes Initiative that's looked at how the area could be improved and how it could be made more vibrant in the future.

No decisions have yet been made and, if the feasibility study is approved, consultation with traders, partners and members of the public would take place to gauge feedback on ideas as individual schemes come forward.

The area subject to the study includes Plymouth Street, Nelson Street, Singleton Street, Lower Oxford Street, Shopper's Walk, Picton Arcade and Westway between its junctions with Oxford Street and Singleton Street.

It's proposed the existing former Oxford School site could potentially feature a mixed-use development with parking while street and building improvements are also being recommended across the study area.

The area already has a variety of specialist independent traders and the improvements proposed are looking to strengthen the area, maximise the benefits of its existing arcades and potentially create new opportunities.

A new public square could be also created with new cafes, shops and restaurants with a specific focus on enhancing the setting of the Grand Theatre and providing more facilities for theatre-goers.

Also key to the recommendations is the need for the development of a strong identity and promotional brand for the area.

Funding opportunities such as the Welsh Assembly Government's Building Enhancement Programme could be pursued to help realise some of the goals for building enhancement.

Examples such as The Lane in Brighton and Neal's Yard in London's Covent Garden have been looked at in the preparation of The Picton Lanes Initiative.

Cllr Chris Holley, Swansea Council Leader, said: "This is a purely feasibility study at this stage but, if it's approved, it will allow us to explore some of the ideas and opportunities that have been identified with key stakeholders such as traders and members of the public so that all views can be taken on board.

"This area is already characterised by a strong independent trader scene but what we're looking to do is boost its profile and identity and to make it more vibrant.

"The aim is to develop its reputation for uniqueness and ensure it becomes a dynamic area of special character that offers something that little bit different from other parts of the city centre."

Cllr Gareth Sullivan, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Economic and Strategic Development, said: "The regeneration of the city centre is one of our priorities and this is why we've worked with partners such as the Welsh Assembly Government to improve the look of the area, redevelop the Quadrant Bus Station and open up a three-storey retail complex on Princess Way.

"The long-term goal is to develop a vibrant, mixed-use city centre that's linked to a stunning and dynamic waterfront and the redevelopment of the Lower Oxford Street area into one of special character complements that vision.

"We accept that these are difficult economic times but we're putting the foundations in place for an exciting future when market conditions improve and the feedback of stakeholders will be vital as we move ideas of this nature forward."


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