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Is the SA1 development in Swansea a blueprint for Wales?

05 Oct 2023 4 minute read
An aerial image of the approved 43 houses and flats off Langdon Road, SA1, Swansea image provided by Pobl Group

Mike HedgesMS for Swansea East

The SA1 development is one of the real success stories of regeneration in Swansea over recent years. The former Prince of Wales docks area has been transformed into a new housing and mixed development area including new facilities for Swansea Trinity St David university.

This development has been a huge success, regenerating a former dockland and storage area. It is a mixed development including commercial, manufacturing and design, housing, university, and leisure development. I believe it should form the blueprint for regenerating other areas of Swansea, and indeed other areas around south Wales this follows on from the successful regeneration work at Swansea vale previously completed.

There are 1,500 residential units either completed already or in the process of being constructed. And it has that great mix of new activity that will give life to that part of Swansea including a new waterfront church, primary healthcare services, Admiral insurance as a commercial partner, a nursery for young children to be there, and student accommodation so that people of that age can be part of SA1.

The development keeps on growing with more waterfront land at Swansea’s SA1 being released for more houses and flats and a new development was approved by the city council’s planning committee in September. It really will be a vibrant part of the city – this is the lesson, I think, that can be drawn for Felindre in the way the strategic use of public investment, far from crowding out private investment, as is the theoretical belief of neo-liberals, actually has exactly the opposite impact.


Used properly, it creates a magnet that draws investment by others into an area. The key development has been UWTSD which is transforming this area of the city, adding an innovative mix of education and enterprise to a location that has already attracted businesses, cafes, restaurants, and bars.

The development includes high specification teaching rooms with top-quality audio-visual and ICT equipment. A large new library that provides access to a range of flexible learning and teaching spaces to support students. Excellent Computing facilities with IT staff on hand to help with any technical issues. Social spaces to meet up with friends and colleagues, as well as for important events and get-togethers.

The Technium and Ethos buildings allow companies to grow in high skilled high tech economic areas.
Successes include Cyden which designs and manufactures IPL (intense pulsed light) hair removal products for use in the home. The Company has experience of the category, having originally begun its life making devices for professional salons. CyDen’s HQ base, manufacturing, development, and clinical testing all take place in Swansea.

Veeqo, a Swansea-founded technology company, was acquired by Amazon in 2021, and its services are available the 85,000 small and medium-sized businesses selling on Amazon in the UK. Just over a year later, it was announced that the opening of Amazon’s first corporate office in Wales, home to the Veeqo team and others from Amazon, was to be based in Swansea city centre.

Warehouses and docks are part of its history, and they are becoming part of its future, converting into smart offices and cafes, providing spaces for water-based sports, and contributing to the area’s appeal.
All is not perfect, the Welsh government has not completed the transfer of roads and drainage to Swansea council and there is dispute over who should pay for the upkeep of the dock.

The old Felindre Steel work site is another area which would lend itself to this type of large-scale mixed regeneration initiative. I hope that the Welsh government and Swansea council will consider this type of development for that site. There is significant public investment there. It is not a complete parallel to SA1, because it is more directly focused on commercial occupation, but the use of public funds to make that happen in the best possible way is a lesson certainly that is there to be drawn.

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7 months ago

I used to live in SA1 near that area, and it was indeed “good”. I would just like to point out a few negatives, which are relatively easy to solve: Vast areas allocated for parking: it should be a requirement for every developer that parking space is made available underground. Period. More expensive? Sure. It also leaves space for more development, higher density. A bus or tram service may not be profitable if only 5000 people live in an area (made-up figure). Put parking underground, now there’s space for 10,000 people, suddenly the bus is profitable and there’s even space… Read more »

7 months ago

Where’s the schools and the shops and the green spaces you promised? Parts of the marina have been turned into dumps by student let’s. You know which ones they are as the gardens are unattended.

Lastly why should people get first class Marian property under social housing, when others have worked all their lives to afford these places.

David Powell
David Powell
7 months ago

I’ve been working in SA1 Waterfront for over 20 years. The planning department at the council restricted the amount of underground car parking, resulting in 25% less spaces than there could have been in my office building, which was built over a decade ago. The promised multistorey car park that was part of the plan never materialised. The King’s Road exit onto Quay Parade still has no lights, making it harder for cars to leave. There is no street parking by the restaurants in the J Shed, meaning that restaurants don’t seem to survive very long there. It just shows… Read more »

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