PROGRESS is being made on several large-scale student developments in Swansea after a rush of private sector investment.
Swansea Council has dealt with a flurry of schemes in recent years, although there has been a lull of late.
With two universities and more than 30,000 students in Swansea, purpose-built accommodation has been promoted as a way of catering for rising student numbers, reducing the pressure on houses of multiple occupation in residential areas, and increasing the below-average population of the city centre.
Not all of the these schemes are in the city centre. Morfa Road, for example, is on the outskirts but will be home to several hundred students later this year.
Swansea University currently has 23,684 undergraduates and postgraduates, and is in discussions over the closure date of its Hendrefoelan Student Village, Sketty. An announcement is likely in the next month.
Here we take a look at how some of these developments are faring.
Coppergate. The Kingsway It hasn’t all been plain sailing for this 310-bed scheme, on the corner of Christina Street.
The £22 million development was meant to open in September 2019 but was hit by what were described as unforeseen delays.
Students hoping to move in have been accommodated elsewhere, but a spokesman for developers Crosslane Student Developments said Coppergate would finally open this month. He said there was likely to be a phased occupation of the rooms because some students wanted to finish their January exams before upping sticks.
Coppergate comprises a 14-storey tower and two six-storey blocks, a central courtyard and some commercial space.
Mariner Street car park, Swansea A long time in the planning, reinforced concrete columns are starting to shoot up opposite the city’s railway station. This development will be 17 storeys tall at its highest and be home to 780 students from September 2021. They will live in a mix of apartments and studios, with all rooms en-suite. There will also be a gym, cinema and courtyard, and 20,000 sq ft of commercial ground floor space. The £65 million project had been on pause while agreement was reached to relocate existing Network Rail spaces at the car park.
Developers Fusion Students, builders ISG and project managers Rhomco shook hands with council leader Rob Stewart at the site in June last year to mark the formal start of construction. With the newly-revamped Oldway Centre catering for 556 students just across Mariner Street, footfall in the area is set to grow – in term-time at least.
The former Unigate site, Morfa Road. Contractors haven’t been hanging about at this former dairy. A few vertical girders aside, it was just a flattened patch of land last summer. New accommodation blocks are now impossible to miss. There will be four blocks of five and six storeys which will house 706 students from the start of the 2020 academic year. The £34 million Bricks Capital venture will feature a cinema, library, gym, and cafe.
St David’s site, Morfa Road. Around a quarter of a mile from the Unigate site, this new 245-bed building is the final phase of the St David’s student accommodation complex. The St David’s development, flanked by New Cut Road, Pottery Street and Morfa Road, has a gym and courtyard. The final phase will have ensuite rooms, and is due to be completed by September this year.
Kings Road, SA1
It feels like these two yellow cranes have become part of the skyline in Swansea, and progress appears to be a little less marked than other student schemes. But the target completion dates remains September 2021, according to planning consultants Alder King.
The £45 million development by Crown Student Living on the banks of the River Tawe will accommodate 645 mainly overseas students. Nine storeys tall at its highest, the complex will have a gym, small cinema and canteen. Students will have a short walk to the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s SA1 campus, and a few minutes’ bike or bus ride to Swansea University’s Bay Campus, off Fabian Way.
Fabian Way. On the smaller end of the scale, the former Vale of Neath Arms pub in Port Tennant is being converted and extended to accommodate 27 students in three flats. The building had previously been vacant for some 20 years. Further along Fabian Way towards the city centre another vacant pub – The Cape Horner – is all set for a new lease of life as a 72-bed student block after a Welsh Government-appointed planning inspector upheld an appeal by developers Hawkfire Developments. The company appealed after the scheme was turned down by Swansea Council.