RETAIL units at a multi-million redevelopment in Swansea are attracting virtually no interest and will remain empty unless other types of businesses like cafes or restaurants can move there, according to a developer.
Orchard House (Swansea) Ltd said that seven ground floor units with retail planning use at Orchard House, at the junction of Orchard Street and Bellevue Way, have been marketed for 18 months without success.
The company has applied to Swansea Council to expand planning uses for the units – although two of them do have existing tenants – to include food and drink premises, and also ventures such as clinics, nurseries, gyms, and cinemas.
It said in a planning statement:
“It is hoped the approval of this application would bring these vacant commercial units back into beneficial use and improve footfall and the vitality, viability and vibrancy of Swansea city centre and complement both the day-time and evening economy.”
A letter from property consultants commissioned by Orchard House (Swansea) said no retail viewings had been carried out at the units over the last 18 months, despite extensive marketing.
Although this period largely dovetailed with the Covid pandemic, the letter from BP2 Property Consultants said the retail units were “unlettable” with their current use.
It said: “We do not foresee market conditions altering in favour of these uses in the near future.”
The letter said the situation would be different if the units had food and drink use in particular.
Individual change of use applications could be pursued, but BP2 Property Consultants said tenants were put off by the process and uncertainty about the outcome.
New-look Orchard House now has 52 flats above a first floor earmarked for offices and the commercial ground floor area below.
It is one of a number of developments that are changing the look of The Kingsway and Orchard Street corridor.
Swansea Council’s cabinet is assessing the business case for major office development on The Kingsway at a meeting on May 20 and is also due to approve funding of up to £20 million for a new economic recovery fund, which aims to support local businesses post-Covid, among other things.
It has previously administered central Government hardship grants for businesses since the pandemic and also spent £1.2 million to help hospitality operators buy outdoor furniture.