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Discussions with potential occupiers of civic centre 23-acre seafront site

DISCUSSIONS are being held with potential occupiers of a redeveloped Civic Centre site in Swansea, the leader of the council said. The building is home to council staff and other public sector organisations.

Cllr Rob Stewart, who was addressing a council scrutiny panel, stressed they were “some initial discussions” only.

The meeting also heard a revised strategy was being drawn up for potential developments along Swansea Bay, including a master plan for Blackpill.

Cabinet members and a council officer who attended said they were restricted in what they could say, partly for commercial reasons.

The council appointed a regeneration company called Urban Splash last year as its preferred partner for seven key sites in Swansea, including the seafront Civic Centre.

The early proposals for three of them include homes and leisure and hospitality facilities, plus greenery, at the 23-acre Civic Centre site.

New office buildings, flats and shared workspaces are earmarked for a 5.5-acre site running roughly from St David’s Place, where Iceland has a store, down to Oystermouth Road.

This would follow on from the new indoor arena, car parks and flats – known as Copr Bay – which are being built on either side of Oystermouth Road.

Also being considered is a residential-led project at a 7.5-acre riverside site in St Thomas.

Cllr Jeff Jones, who was chairing the meeting, asked if a further marketing exercise would be carried out and what interest had been shown in the sites.

Cllr Stewart said the authority would not be asking potential investors if they wanted to buy the Civic Centre land, for example. It would instead continue to work with Urban Splash to draw up a plan for the site.

“We are in discussions with potential occupiers of that site, some initial discussions are taking place there, as they are for Copr Bay phase two,” he said.

The meeting also heard from an officer who said a 2008 Swansea Bay strategy, which was put together by the council and the Welsh Government and suggested a number of foreshore sites for development, was being revised.

Cllr Chris Holley asked about the foreshore at Blackpill and also if privately-owned Oystermouth Square, Mumbles, was being included in this revised strategy, particularly as the council is to rebuild the adjacent seawall.

Cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, said it was up to the square’s owners what they might like to go there, but added it was currently operating successfully as a car park.

He said it had become apparent that pop-up catering units and sitting outside were increasingly popular, and this would inform the design of the Mumbles seawall scheme.

The officer then said he and his colleagues have had “clear political direction” to look at the Blackpill foreshore, which will be included in the revised bay strategy.

“Some of the suggestions around pop-ups and temporary units will probably form part of that,” he said.

The officer said the importance of the foreshore and promenade had become evident over the last 18 months to two years. These were sensitive sites, he said, with a lot of discussions needed before things moved to “any sort of next stage”.

The council has previously invited expressions of interest in a small number of foreshore sites for small-scale redevelopment, but to date, nothing has materialised as a result.

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