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Council announces ‘mixed-use destination’ vision for Swansea city centre retail core

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Future phases of Swansea city centre developments and investments have been unveiled as a mixed-use destination with investment in lifestyle, family experiences and retail to help increase the number of visitors.

Aimed at helping create a more vibrant and sustainable city centre in coming years, a number of proposals have been put forward to build on a multi-million pound investment programme that’s already under way.

In addition to the council-led £135m Copr Bay phase one development, the £12m transformation of The Kingsway and the on-going £3m Wind Street improvement project, new proposals include:

  • The retention of the former Debenhams building as a retail unit
  • Boosting Swansea Market trade by improving its entrances
  • Enhancing the look of key gateways in and out of the city centre with public art and more greenery
  • Introducing a new street food market with links to both Swansea Market and the Quadrant Shopping Centre
  • Creating a new public area for families at the junction between Oxford Street and Portland Place, including play facilities and seating

The latest proposals follow a city centre review commissioned by the council that’s found a vibrant mix of uses is needed for the city centre to thrive, create new jobs and attract more investment in future. They also build on plans including a multi-purpose community hub at the city centre’s former BHS building that will provide services such as a library and agile accommodation for organisations.

Former BHS and What! store on Oxford Street will be home to the city’s central library and a community hub.

If approved by Swansea Council’s Cabinet, work will take place to further explore each proposal and potential funding sources. Consultation would also be held with residents and businesses.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, said: “Research shows that factors like internet shopping and out-of-town shopping mean city centres across the UK, including Swansea, can no longer solely rely on retail as they did in the 1970s and 1980s if they’re to thrive.

“They need to become destinations of choice for people to live, work and enjoy, as well as shop. This change has been accelerated by the pandemic, which triggered the failure of a number of key national retailers in city centres across the UK.

“Swansea is well-placed though as we’re already investing millions of pounds in a number of major schemes to diversify our city centre into a mixed-use destination that features entertainment, leisure, food and drink, housing, greenery and offices, as well as retail, to help generate a destination that attracts more footfall and spending.

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“The review’s findings support all the work we’ve done so far, but we want the very best for our residents and business, which is why a number of further proposals are now being considered.

“Helping make the most of our fantastic indoor market at the heart of the city centre, the new proposals also include bringing empty buildings back into use, creating more public spaces and activities for families, supporting our independent traders and improving the way the city centre looks.

“We’ll also soon be unveiling plans for a greener, more vibrant Castle Square, and Kingsway’s transformation will shortly gather even more pace with the construction of a high-tech office development that will provide space for 600 jobs.”

Other new proposals include improving the environment around St Mary’s Church, and introducing better lighting and other features to improve the lanes between Wind Street and the city centre.

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The city centre review was carried out by RivingtonHark and BDP (Building Design Partnership).

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Free marketing support helping hundreds of Swansea tourism businesses

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Close to 200 tourism businesses in Swansea are now being given a helping hand to raise their profile across the UK and beyond, thanks to free marketing support.

An £80,000 Swansea Council scheme means that fees will be waived again – for a third year – so tourism and hospitality businesses can continue to feature on the official Visit Swansea Bay destination website at no cost until March 2023. 

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These businesses can also benefit from a series of marketing campaigns designed to encourage new visitors to Swansea, Mumbles and Gower.

It’s one of many schemes being funded by the council’s £25m Economic Recovery Fund to support businesses and communities throughout Swansea to help them recover from the economic impact of the pandemic.

Swansea Council has also offered tourism businesses the opportunity to improve their visitor offer with a Tourism Support Fund launched in October. This fund is now fully committed after a very positive response from local operators who wished to enhance their business in order to be able to attract more visitors.

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism, said: “Tourism makes a significant contribution to Swansea’s economy, so we’re determined to do all we can to support the sector during the extremely challenging times of the pandemic.

“Since we first waived fees at the beginning of the pandemic for tourism businesses to feature on visitswanseabay.com, over 70 additional businesses have signed up for the service. This means close to 200 tourism businesses are now benefitting from not just more exposure but also inclusion in our year-long destination marketing campaigns, including new social media and video on demand TV advertising referring back to the website for more information.

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“Figures show the Visit Swansea Bay website generates many millions of views a year, so this presents a great opportunity for tourism businesses to further raise their profile as we head towards the critically important Easter and summer seasons for the tourism sector.”

Businesses benefitting from the website fee waiving include the El Pescador Restaurant and Bar on Trawler Road, as well as the King Arthur Hotel in Reynoldston, Gower.

King Arthur Hotel

Carly Shapton, of the King Arthur Hotel, said: “Given the impact Coronavirus has had on hospitality since March 2020, the support from Swansea Council through waiving the Visit Swansea Bay partnership fees has been very much appreciated.  

“The weekly email updates, press and journalist visits, and in particular the ‘late availability’ section on the Visit Swansea Bay website, have been very useful. This has given our business an extra boost during what have been a difficult few years.”

Swansea Council has now committed over £13.6m to more than 50 projects as part of its Economic Recovery Fund. Other schemes covered by the fund include free bus travel initiatives, the provision of free outside public space use for businesses to expand, and the installation of extra Christmas lights in the city centre over the festive period.

Also covered by the fund is a new Energy Awareness Hub on Nelson Street. Commissioned by the council and run by the Environment Centre, the hub aims to help local people cut their fuel bills by providing free, accessible and independent support.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Swansea investment management firm second award in 4 months

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Swansea-based Crossing Point Investment Management has been crowned best ESG Investment Management Firm in the UK Finance Awards 2021.

This is the company’s second award win in four months, after it was crowned best discretionary fund manager (DFM) for the South West and Wales region in the 2021 Citywire Adviser Choice Awards in September.

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Tomiko Evans

Founded in 2018, Crossing Point manages clients’ investment portfolios using various strategies. Its Green Path portfolios, which won it the award, focus on investments guided by environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.

Crossing Point’s investment strategies are rooted in academic research carried out by Tomiko Evans, the firm’s managing director and chief investment officer, and Crossing Point’s investment manager Mike Buckle, who is a Professor of Finance at Swansea University.

The UK Finance Awards, hosted by SME News, champion and recognise those in the financial services sector who have shown industry excellence over the past year.

Now in its third consecutive year, the awards focus on small and medium sized companies in the sector. The winners are chosen on merit alone.

Tomiko Evans, managing director and chief investment officer and Crossing Point Investment Management, said: “We’re delighted to receive this award, which highlights our commitment to providing ethical investment options for our clients.

“Socially responsible investment (SRI) and the use of ESG investment criteria to guide investments has moved into the mainstream.

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“There is now overwhelming evidence that sustainable investment can deliver comparable returns with traditional investments and offer opportunities for outperformance based on reduced risk.

“This award recognises the importance of this growing sector, and our place within it.”

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City council urges more businesses to apply for COVID support funding

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Over £2.8m worth of emergency Covid financial support has been provided to more than 1,000 Swansea businesses and charities since a new grant scheme went live earlier this month.

The scheme – funded by the Welsh Government and run by Swansea Council – covers retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses, charities and not-for-profit organisations impacted by Wales’ move to alert level two in late December. 

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Eligible businesses as well as those in their supply chains which are liable to pay non-domestic rates could be entitled to grants of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000, depending on their rateable value.

The council is now calling on all eligible businesses which have yet to apply to submit an application form by the deadline of 5pm on Monday February 14.

More information, eligibility criteria and registration and application details are now available on the council’s website.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, said: “Our officers have already processed close to 1,000 successful applications, but we’d urge any eligible business or charity that’s yet to apply to get their forms in before the application window for this support closes.

“We’re aiming to process fully completed applications within seven working days, although applications that require further checking or supporting evidence will take longer to assess.

“This is among many ways the council is working with the Welsh Government and other partners to support our businesses during these extremely challenging times.”

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An emergency grant scheme is also now available for Swansea businesses in the leisure, tourism, hospitality and retail sectors that do not pay business rates.

Funded by the Welsh Government and run by Swansea Council, the Emergency Business Fund grant scheme is aimed at helping support businesses impacted by current Covid restrictions which are not eligible for the Economic Resilience Fund.

Covering business impacted from Monday December 13 to Monday February 14, online applications are now open which cover two levels of grant award:

  • A £1,000 cash grant payment for hospitality, tourism, retail, leisure or related supply chain businesses which do not employ anyone apart from the owner, and do not have a property
  • A £2,000 cash grant payment for hospitality, tourism, retail, leisure or related supply chain businesses who employ staff through PAYE (in addition to the owner)

Also covering freelancers in the creative sector, both these grants are aimed at supporting businesses with an annual turnover of less than £85,000.

Businesses which may be eligible are asked to visit the Business Wales website where the eligibility checker must be completed before applicants are able to access the application form.

All applications for these grants must also be submitted by 5pm on Monday February 14.

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