A 328-bed student development in an area of Swansea described as being rife with “indiscriminate drug use and prostitution” has been unanimously approved by councillors.
The scheme off Jockey Street – close to High Street – will be six to 12 storeys and incorporate a small commercial unit.
The development includes a roof with greenery and solar panels, and a sunken ground floor garden to hold excess water.
Council planning officers said it was a better design than a 414-bed development which was previously proposed for the site and turned down by the planning committee.
The new scheme also has more parking spaces, and offers better lighting and CCTV at the Jockey Street underpass.
Planning agent Matthew Gray, speaking on behalf of applicant Garip Demirci, said there had been a significant reduction in the overall height of the building.
The vacant site, he said, had been consistently broken into and damaged and was in a wider area which experienced “indiscriminate drug use and prostitution on a daily basis”.
He added: “The scheme has the potential to be transformative in comparison to the current condition of the site.”
The application led to an objection from Mario and Rebekah DeMarco, who live at and run the adjacent DeMarco’s Dance Studio.
They emailed the planning authority to say the development would block sunlight and add to already congested parking. They were also concerned about their boundary wall.
Steve Smith, the council’s place-making and heritage lead officer, told the planning committee that the 328-bed scheme was “considered to be an imposing feature in a positive way”.
He also said the development was felt by council officers to be a key component of regenerating the upper part of High Street.
This area is home to the Palace Theatre, which the council has acquired and will refurbish. A 775-bed student development is being built a little further down, opposite the railway station.
Voicing his support for the 328-bed application, Cllr Mike Lewis said it was “far improved” on the previous 414-bed one.
Cllr Des Thomas said it would enhance the area, but he didn’t think it was “anything special”.
He asked if the committee should consider any possible change of use in the future, given, he said, that student numbers were falling in some university cities.
A planning officer said the applicant had submitted an “adaptability statement”, and that in theory it could be converted. But any attempt to do so would require separate planning permission.
The development has space for 164 bikes, and the applicant will have to pay £142,000 for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure upgrades.