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Affordable housing agreement signed as part of Swansea regeneration

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Swansea Council has signed an agreement with Pobl Group, Wales’ largest Registered Social Landlord, to manage 33 affordable apartments as part of Phase One of the Copr Bay regeneration project.

The £135 million mixed-use scheme is one of several imaginative developments within an ambitious £1 billion city-wide programme, making it one of the largest urban transformations currently underway in Europe.

Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, with Amanda Davies, Group Chief Executive of Pobl Group at the site of the Copr Bay development (Image: Swansea Council / Pobl)

Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, commented: “When complete, the combined regeneration projects across Swansea will collectively generate a boost of an additional £128m for the local economy.

“Copr Bay Phase One will create more than 2,000 new jobs during construction and from opening. We expect at least 70 per cent of these to be filled by local people.”

Robert Francis-Davies, Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism, added: “This scheme is helping us realise our ambitious plans for jobs, economic benefit, and homes within an appealing and sustainable environment.”

Pobl is a not-for-profit organisation that has over 15,000 homes under its management across Wales. The group currently has 36 developments ongoing with the construction of 1,234 homes in progress.

In Swansea, Pobl’s development of 52 apartments in Orchard House is scheduled for completion in March, while it is anticipated that the innovative Biophilic Living scheme, which will see 50 apartments built on the site of the old Woolworth store, will get underway in the spring. Work is about to commence on a collaborative project with Coastal Housing to develop a new community of 144 zero carbon homes to the west of the city. 

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All the apartments in Copr Bay Phase One will be affordable homes, targeted at those working in Swansea city centre, particularly key workers. Funded by Pobl Group and the Welsh Government, the homes will consist of 13 one-bed apartments for up to two people, and 20 two-bedroom apartments for up to three people. Copr Bay Phase One is being funded by Swansea Council, and is centred around a 3,500-capacity live performance arena and conference centre which is part-funded by the Swansea Bay City Deal, a £1.3 billion investment fund set-up for major transformation projects in this region of South Wales. The arena will be operated by the global leader in live theatre, The Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG).

Copr Bay, the newly revealed permanent name for the development previously called ‘Swansea Central’, uses the Welsh spelling for copper to herald the city’s world-leading contribution during the industrial revolution, and celebrates its world-famous coastline. It will bring together culture, entertainment and leisure, and links the city centre to the marina and the expansive sandy beach via a new statement bridge for pedestrians and cyclists, combining improved permeability with iconic design.

As well as the coastal park and bridge, the scheme includes a 3,500-capacity live performance arena and conference centre, a hotel with up to 150-rooms, further restaurants, spacious public realm and the new homes. The scheme is being delivered by Swansea Council working with development manager RivingtonHark, one of the leading city and town centre real estate transformation specialists.

Amanda Davies, Group Chief Executive of Pobl Group, said: “The Copr Bay development is an important addition to the city. It is within the city centre’s Castle ward that has a strong need for more affordable housing and emphasises the Council’s commitment to address the accommodation needs of the region. The new homes are in a great location, close to the new coastal park, and will provide much needed quality accommodation for the local community.”

Swansea Council aims to double the city’s green infrastructure over the next ten years, including a ‘green artery’ that will connect Swansea Station to the beach and the marina through planting and soft interventions, including Copr Bay’s 1.1-acre coastal park.

The scheme adheres to the Well-Being of Future Generations Act. This law, unique to Wales, requires public bodies to consider the long-term impact of decisions to reduce poverty, health inequalities and climate change.  This underpins Swansea Council’s goal to be a net carbon zero organisation by 2030, and an ambitious vision for the city to be net carbon zero by 2050, a target that was agreed by the council’s cabinet in November 2020.

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The new coastal park is the first park to be built in the city since the Victorian age and will provide attractive green spaces plus facilities for outdoor events. It will extend the green artery in the city, creating a home for local wildlife and a place for local residents to relax. Plans are in-hand for WIFI across the scheme, including throughout the coastal park, making it ideal for the growing trend of remote working.


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Music

Biggest names in 90s pop are coming to Swansea Arena

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The best and biggest 90s pop names will be performing their greatest hits at Swansea Arena on Friday 30 September.

Acts including Atomic Kitten, boy bands Five and 911, Pop Idol Gareth Gates, Liberty X and S Club Allstars will all be playing Swansea’s newest venue.

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90s Baby Pop describes itself as a rare chance to see your childhood sweethearts and heartthrobs perform their nineties’ nostalgia anthems.

Tickets on sale 10am, FRIDAY MAY 27th, from www.swansea-arena.co.uk

ABOUT THE PERFORMERS

Atomic Kitten formed in 1997 with songs Whole Again and The Tide Is High which always get everyone waving in the air. Two original members, Liz and Natasha will be performing these classics and more.

Also formed in 1997, British Boy Band Five released Keep On Movin’, followed by Everyone Get Up. Their hip-hop and dance tunes are not to be missed.

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20 years ago, Liberty X came onto the scene, and in just a few years went on to become UK superstars. They released ten consecutive UK top 20 singles such as Just A Little and Got To Have Your Love.

Starting his career on Pop Idol, Gareth Gates went onto achieve immense success in the early 2000s and is best known for his songs What My Heart Wants and Go Your Own Way.

S Club Allstars include original band members Tina, Brad and Stacey who will be performing some of S Club’s most iconic tracks such as S Club 7’s You’re My Number One which reached number 2 in the UK charts.

British boy band Damage, had eleven hit singles in the 90s, including Forever – Lady of Soul, Wonderful Tonight and the legendary Ghetto Romance.

Also performing live will be 911, the iconic English 90s boy band who have had international success, selling 15 million singles and albums worldwide.

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Female British group The 411 captured an era with their song Dumb with its smooth R&B vocals and catchy lyrics.

London’s hip-hop group Big Brovaz known for Booty Luv, promise to deliver nostalgic 90s vibes.

British R&B girl group, Honeyz skyrocketed across the UK charts with their tunes Finally Found in 1998 and Won’t Take It Lying Down in 2000. They’re one not to miss.

Following their successful launch programme, Swansea Arena say they’re excited to be moving into a routine of bringing a varied and exciting programme of performers to their landmark new venue in the heart of Swansea’s £135m Copr Bay development.

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Swansea

Free buses return to Swansea for Jubilee half-term

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Swansea’s hugely-popular free bus offer is back for the last weekend in May and the long Bank Holiday weekend at the start of next month.

There’s lots to do right across the city during half-term, the traditional curtain-raiser to the summer in Swansea.

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The council say whether it’s a trip to the Blackpill Lido, a journey to Singleton Park or a day out on the beach you’re looking for, their free bus services will be available for six days over the half-term period.

All bus passenger journeys starting and finishing in Swansea will be free if your journey starts before 7pm on Saturday, May 28th and Sunday, May 29th.

The free service will also be available before 7pm on June 2, 3, 4 and 5 so families can get out and about together without worrying about the fare.

All journeys need to start and finish within Swansea and the only services not included in the offer are First Cymru’s open-top bus between the City Centre and Mumbles and longer distance coach services.

The free travel initiative was launched during last year’s school summer holidays with tens of thousands of people taking the chance to travel for free to do the shopping, see friends for a coffee or visit local landmarks.

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Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said the offer was back because of popular demand. He said: “The free bus initiative has been an incredible success over the last 10 months and now the summer’s coming and there’s a long bank holiday ahead, there’s another opportunity for everyone in Swansea to benefit.

“The feedback I’ve had from families worrying about the rising cost of living is that it’s made a real difference because they can spend their hard-earned wages on other things instead when they make their trips.

“There’s lots of council venues and events going on, indoors and outdoors, to enjoy for free and with free buses too, families have some great opportunities to plan inexpensive days out.

“At a time when people are having to make difficult choices due to rising inflation, energy and food bills, a little bit of help on the buses can make the difference between a trip out or staying at home.

He added: “Other local authorities in Wales and England have also been watching what we’ve been doing in Swansea and adapting the idea to support families in their areas too.”

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The free bus initiative applies to all bus journeys starting and finishing within the Swansea Council area until 7pm on days when the offer is running. Travellers will need to comply with any Welsh Government pandemic rules in force at the time.

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Motoring

Swansea tops UK’s motorcycling hotspots in new survey

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New research has identified the UK’s motorbike capital cities and towns, and when including surrounding areas in the postcode, Swansea has come out top – with an incredible 3.92% of the nations motorcyclists settling here.

Hosting 141,782 riders, Swansea offers both shoreline and lush, green scenic routes so its hardly surprising that the city is the UK’s number one biker hotspot.

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The new research by Bikesure has named Wales as the third-highest biker hotspot in the UK, with 9,514 riders per 100,000 people.

To calculate Britain’s biker hot spots, Bikesure analysed the latest Department for Transport data to identify the number of licensed motorcyclists in the UK in 2021. This data was then broken down by region per 100,000 people, allowing Bikesure to pinpoint the top three locations that Britain’s bikers reside. 

Whilst expected in a post-Covid world that new bikers in the UK would rise due to lowered restrictions and the backlog of learners, Bikesure’s research shows biking within Britain has seen a sharp increase. 

In 2021, 36.9k new bikers were registered in the UK. With discussions around the need to address climate change increasing, the findings suggest a shift in the way Brits are travelling. The return of bikers was particularly prevalent in Wales, which boasted rider growth of 114% since 2020.

Wales also tops the list when it comes to the greatest number of urban bikers, with both Swansea (141,781 actual riders) and Llandudno (77,803 actual riders) making the top ten town and city hot spots list with 6% of all urban riders living in these locations. Wales also had 5% of the 38.6k newly registered motorcyclists in 2021, boasting 114% growth since 2020.

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Bikesure asked bikers in the UK’s hot spots what they felt their region offered to riders. They said:

  • The North East offers great rural riding experiences, as voted by 72% of bikers in this region.
  • Scottish riders feel a sense of camaraderie with 71% of riders rating the friendliness of other motorcyclists highly.
  • Welsh riders were happiest with the accessibility of garages to upkeep and maintain their motorcycles, as voted by 81% of bikers.

Looking at newly licensed riders, although there was a decline in 2020, presumably due to Covid, 2021 was a bumper year with 38.6k new bikers. Looking at demographics, 3.6k newly qualified motorcyclists were aged 20-29 years old, but 2021 also saw the highest number of riders aged 60-69 get their licence, with 911 registering in the first three quarters.

Most of these new bikers can be found in the South East, with Reading and Guilford revealed as the region’s most popular biker towns. There were 7.1k newly qualified motorcyclists in the South East region – a year-on-year increase of 86%.

Large jumps in the number of new riders were also seen in Greater London, the East Midlands and in Yorkshire and the Humber.

The East Midlands is in fact home to 30% of the top 10 cities for newly registered motorcyclists. Nottingham, Derby and Leicester in the East Midlands saw 2.5k new bikers licensed in 2021. As a region, it saw an 106% increase in riders, meaning it was also among the top three fastest growing regions year-on-year along with Wales, and Yorkshire and the Humber.

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