Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Swansea to be transformed by £38million

A £38 million plus project to transform and revitalise Swansea's city centre and its unique waterfront has been given the go-ahead for convergence funding.

The funding package includes £28 million from the Welsh Assembly Government, £20 million from the EU's Convergence European Regional Development Fund and funding from other sources.

The massive investment sees the city benefit from its designation as a Strategic Regeneration Area and will help drive forward the ambitious City Centre Strategic Framework- the blueprint designed to regenerate the city centre, maximise the potential of Swansea's waterfront and link the city centre to the bay.

Leighton Andrews, Welsh Assembly Government Deputy Minister for Regeneration, says the project will contribute significantly to the regeneration of Swansea, help create a more attractive climate for further investment, stimulate commercial confidence, support the retail sector and create more jobs.

Mr Andrews said: "Earlier this year I announced that the city centre would benefit from its designation as a strategic regeneration area and this new package of funding will address some of the social and economic issues including unemployment.

"It will drive forward a major programme of physical regeneration projects geared to support economic growth and tackle some of the issues affecting communities within the city centre area.

"It will lay the foundations designed to bring long-term economic and social benefits to businesses, people and communities in the region."

The investment bid was led by Swansea Council and will see a series of projects across the city centre and waterfront including the creation of a European-style boulevard.

Social benefit clauses will be incorporated into the public works programme to help address local deprivation through initiatives that include supply chain opportunities for local businesses to benefit from and by providing targeted employment and/or training for local people.

The funding will build on work already carried out in the city centre and will improve the quality of the public realm and key buildings to reflect Swansea's status as a regional capital of South West Wales.

The key elements of The Waterfront City initiative are:

  • Boulevard- The creation of a high quality European-style boulevard involving major works to the Oystermouth Road, Victoria Road and Quay Parade corridor and mproved links between the city centre and waterfront with enhancement of the public realm including landscaping, footpaths, cycleways, street furniture and public art. The boulevard will eventually extend from the Tawe Road bridge to the Civic Centre.
  • Property Development Fund- Developing employment opportunities by providing gap funding for the construction of new offices and major refurbishment of existing offices in the city centre.
  • Building Enhancement Programme- This will complement an initiative launched last year by the Assembly Government and Swansea Council to provide grants to improve the exterior of buildings and shopfronts across the city centre.
  • City Centre Improvements- This will extend the programme of environmental works that has been undertaken in the city centre to include streets adjacent to work already completed
  • Waterfront projects- Funding will be targeted at public realm improvements in three key waterfront locations on the riverbank and seafront promenade between the Tawe Bridges and the Civic Centre.

Cllr Chris Holley, Swansea Council Leader, said: "This is one of the most significant investments in Swansea during the past 50 years and is wonderful news for the city.

"It's been our ambition for many years to improve connections between the city centre and the waterfront and I'm delighted this investment will help us achieve that. This major investment will also build on the work already underway in the city centre and will help to support businesses and boost the local economy.

"We are now in the position to deliver a number of key projects and work with our developers Hammerson to transform the city centre."

The latest investment follows the approval of £5 million of Convergence funding and £5 million from the Assembly Government towards a £11 million scheme to replace the existing Quadrant bus station with a modern, high-quality facility to cater for both buses and coaches, including Swansea Metro vehicles.

Work on the bus station is already underway and, when complete, will offer improved access into Swansea and assist in the regeneration of the city centre and the wider region.


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