Plymouth model for Swansea Civic Centre redevelopment
Richard Youle, Local Democracy Reporter
A former Navy building in Plymouth which has been transformed into shops, restaurants, bars, visitor accommodation and art studios will be the model for the redevelopment of Swansea’s Civic Centre site.
Local authority officials have visited Royal William Yard – the Navy’s main victualling yard in the days before canned food – and were very impressed by what was on offer, a council scrutiny panel was told.
Huw Mowbray, the council’s property development manager, said the Plymouth complex has been redeveloped by Urban Splash – the company Swansea Council has appointed to transform seven sites in the city.
One of the first of these seven will be the 17-acre Civic Centre site, although it’s still early days.
Mr Mowbray said Urban Splash was basing its plans for the Civic Centre on Royal William Yard, and that it had already been talking to a number of potential tenants.
He said he had been struck by the quality of the Plymouth project and its tenants – and how well they thought of Urban Splash as a landlord.
“I think they (Urban Splash) will be of real benefit to Swansea,” said Mr Mowbray.
“I don’t think we could have chosen anyone better.”
Mr Mowbray said the Civic Centre site would include shops, restaurants, office space, visitor accommodation and leisure uses such as an interactive aquarium.
He added that the Civic Centre itself would not be demolished.
He felt the redeveloped site would create a new destination for Swansea, including better links to the nearby arena and city centre.
Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said of Royal William Yard: “The standard is exceptionally high.”
The Civic Centre site will need to be empty of council staff before any work gets under way there.
They will move to the Guildhall and potentially a section of a large public sector hub which is proposed on land the other side of Oystermouth Road from the arena.
The public sector hub itself forms part of another large mixed-use project, called Swansea Central North, which is being drawn up and developed by Urban Splash, along with a new scheme for the former St Thomas rail station site.
Levelling Up bid
The panel was told that the council has submitted a bid for UK Levelling Up funding to support the Swansea Central North project, and that a decision by Westminster was expected in October.
Mr Mowbray said no council money was being used for Swansea Central North, and that the Levelling Up bid – if successful – would accelerate its delivery.
In answer to questions from Cllr Chris Holley, Mr Mowbray said Urban Splash had been clear from the outset that they would need “that little bit of public sector support from somewhere”.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.