FROM High Street to SA1, the Tawe riverside to The Kingsway, large student developments are starting to materialise across Swansea.
The soft whirring of cranes and clickety-clack of earth movers have become part of the city’s background din.
By September 2020, nearly 2,000 student bedrooms will be ready for occupation in four substantial developments.
A year later, two further schemes will open their doors to 1,425 students and postgraduates.
Meanwhile, more accommodation is being built at Swansea University’s Bay Campus, although students are being moved out of Hendrefoilan Student Village in Killay.
Investors in these schemes will hope student numbers at the city’s two universities – now well over 20,000 – rise in line with forecasts to provide a financial return.
Council chiefs will hope these purpose-built accommodation blocks will help reinvigorate the city centre – during term time at least – without causing major parking problems.
People living in places like Brynmill, Uplands and St Thomas will hope they halt the march of houses of multiple occupation (HMOs).
Speaking at a council meeting this month, cabinet member for delivery David Hopkins said he wanted students to be fully integrated in the city, giving them a reason to stay and potentially boost the economy further.
“For far too long we’ve had entrepreneurs who go elsewhere,” he said.
Cabinet colleague, councillor Robert Francis-Davies, said 19% of Swansea’s population lived in the city centre, considerably lower than comparable cities.
“We are lucky to have two universities that are growing,” said Cllr Francis-Davies.
He added: “What we want is a lot more accommodation – social housing, affordable housing, private housing. We need that social mix in the city centre.”
Here we take a look at the largest student developments under way or in the pipeline in Swansea.
The former Unigate Dairy site, Morfa Distributor Road
This £34 million Bricks Capital scheme will deliver 706 bedrooms in four blocks of five and six storeys.
It will have a cinema, library, gym, cafe and numerous bike spaces.
It is due to be ready for occupation for the start of the 2020-21 academic year.
Kings Road, SA1
After a lengthy planning wrangle and a change of site owner, this £45 million development on the banks of the River Tawe will be home to 645 students.
The Crown Student Living scheme will be nine storeys at its highest, and host a gym, small cinema and canteen.
It will cater mainly for overseas students, and be completed by September 2021.
Oldway Centre, High Street
This slab-like building facing High Street and Orchard Street has been enmeshed in scaffolding for what seems like an eternity.
The wraps will come off this summer when it opens in September for 556 students, complete with a games area, cinema room and courtyard, after a wholesale facelift costing more than £30 million.
Coppergate, The Kingsway
With an estimated build cost of £17 million, this 310-bed development will also welcome its first tenants in September 2019.
The building will comprise a 14-storey tower and two six-storey blocks, a central courtyard and some commercial space.
St David’s site, New Cut Road
The final phase of this huge 967-bed student development will be six to seven storeys, and house 245 students.
A large crane is swinging into action as contractors prepare the buiding for occupation next year.
There have been parking issues at this site, prompting residents living in an adjacent estate to employ a private management company to deal with students’ parked cars.
Mariner Street car park site, opposite Swansea rail station
The biggest of the lot – this site is now being cleared by earth movers, ready for a 780-bed development with some commercial space.
The £50 million scheme will reach 17 storeys into the sky and be seen as a gateway into Swansea by train passengers and city centre-bound motorists driving along High Street and Dyfatty Street.
The first students are exepcted there in September 2021.
A number of other student developments in Swansea have, however, not progressed.
These include one at a prime site in Swansea Marina.
Trawler Road, Swansea Marina
This four to six-storey development at the old Spontex site – once earmarked for a 164-bed hotel – has lain dormant since Swansea Council granted planning permission in 2016.
Three commercial units are planned as part of the 287-bed student scheme, which is a stone’s throw from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s new SA1 Waterfront campus.
The Local Democracy Reporter Service has been unable to contact the applicant.
Jockey Street, near Swansea railway station
This six to 14-storey scheme for 414 students was turned down by Swansea Council’s planning committee.
A Welsh Government-appointed planning inspector upheld the refusal decision, describing the design as “monolithic”.
A spokesman for the applicant said a new planning application was being prepared for a smaller development.
Former Sun Alliance House, St Helen’s Road
This office block was supposed to be converted into 78 student studios following planning approval three years ago.
But nothing appears to have happened, and the applicant declined to give an update when contacted.