Swansea’s urban spaces set to turn green

TREES, green spaces and living walls will be part of Swansea’s urban landscape under a new plan which is due to go out to public consultation.

Council chiefs want to create a green artery between the High Street railway station and Swansea Marina, and will encourage developers to play their part in improving the “green infrastructure”.

The aim is to increase the amount of greenery in the city’s central area from 13% to 26% by 2030, and increase tree canopy cover by 25% by 2044.

A draft green infrastructure strategy is being discussed at a council committee meeting on September 19 prior to debate by full council next month.

It said Swansea experienced significant post-war reconstruction but was left with “a legacy of spaces dominated by sealed surfaces, including many large car parks”.

The council will create a new coastal park next to the indoor arena, off Oystermouth Road, and contractors have planted trees and shrubs on The Kingsway, Orchard Street and Alexandra Road.

New rooftop gardens are also proposed as part of a high-tech office development at the former Oceana nightclub site on The Kingsway.

The draft strategy said green infrastructure should not be seen as conflicting with city centre redevelopment, and that footfall improved in green cities.

Its authors asked 634 Swansea residents and visitors what city nature meant to them, and held sessions with developers and architects.

“The overwhelming message from our engagement was that city nature is very important to people and will increase their enjoyment and therefore their dwell time in the city centre,” said the strategy report.

One person said a “city that is bare is a city that does not care”, while another said that having somewhere for children to play for a few minutes while shopping would be a “lifeline”.

Castle Square, which the council wants to green as part of a wholesale revamp, was the most frequently cited public space by respondents.

Green areas, added the draft strategy, helped people’s well-being and encouraged physical activity, while just the sight of vegetation lowered blood pressure.

Greenery can also dampen traffic noise and reduce summer temperature peaks, known as the urban heat island effect.

The draft strategy said the council will use a mapping tool to assess whether – and how much – green infrastructure is needed as part of new developments in the central area, which is split into 10 zones between the top of High Street and the Civic Centre.

Maintenance plans, it added, should also be prepared to ensure that trees and shrubs are watered.

The strategy was put together by a private firm, Green Infrastructure Consultancy, along with council officers and Natural Resources Wales.

If approved by full council it will go out to consultation in early November.

Councillor and green infrastructure supporter Peter Jones said trees and other greenery supported bee and bird life, reduced air pollution and helped mitigate climate change.

He added: “People feel happier and better in a green environment surrounded by trees and plants and so forth, which is terribly important.”

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