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Construction

New aerial photos show foundations progress at Kingsway office site

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A state-of-the-art new office development in Swansea is now taking shape at a spot where revellers once partied the night away.

These photos show recent progress on foundation works for the 71/72 Kingsway scheme that’s located at the former Oceana nightclub site in the city centre.

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Depending on your generation, you may also know the site as Top Rank, Ritzy’s or Time and Envy.

Now the site is set to become a five-storey office development with space for 600 workers in the tech, digital and creative sectors.

Developed by Swansea Council, the 71/72 Kingsway scheme will be carbon zero in operation and worth £32.6 million a year to the city’s economy.

Bouygues UK – the council’s main contractor for the development – are now making preparations for the construction of the building’s giant frame in the coming months, with tower cranes already on site to assist.

The 71/72 Kingsway scheme is part-funded by the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal and supported by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. 

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New images show the progress at the new Kingsway office development scheme (Image: Swansea Council)
Artist’s impression of what the completed development will look like (Image: Swansea Council)

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism, said: “In Swansea, we know from discussions with businesses that there’s a shortage of this kind of top quality, flexible office accommodation which means some of our young business talent has had to leave the city to set up elsewhere.

“We need to be doing all we can to tackle that trend because these businesses create jobs for local people and generate more footfall and spending in our city centre.

“This development will help meet that need, while also benefitting from high-quality digital connectivity and modern spaces where businesses can network and collaborate.

“This scheme will complement the nearby ‘living building’ development being led by Hacer Developments where foundation works are also on-going. Schemes like these have contributed to Swansea recently being named by independent experts as one of the UK’s top five green cities to invest in.”

The 71/72 Kingsway scheme will include a huge variety of environmentally-friendly, sustainable features.

Due for completion in 2023, the development will include a green roof, solar panels on top of the building, trees on each level, underfloor heating and heat recovery systems to minimise energy use.  

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John Boughton, Managing Director of Bouygues UK in Wales and the West, said: “We’re delighted that the construction of 71/72 Kingsway – a key part of the history and infrastructure of Swansea – is progressing so well. We’re proud that the finished building will operate at net zero with a range of sustainable features, an ambition we hope to achieve across our builds.

“There is a big demand for high quality, sustainable office accommodation and this landmark building will help regenerate the area and local community. The mix of commercial and office space is going to be a huge asset to the city.”

Artist’s impression of the new link between Kingsway and Oxford Street (Image: Swansea Council)

There will also be a rainwater capture feature, helping with water supply to plants and trees in and around the building.  Glazing throughout the development will allow natural light into the building, further reducing energy consumption.

Greenery on a new pedestrian link between The Kingsway and Oxford Street also forms part of the development.

The building – within minutes of the city’s main bus and rail stations – is located on an active travel route, with recent improvements on The Kingsway providing wide walkways and cycleways.

There will also be a bus stop immediately outside the building.

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Artist’s impression of the nearby ‘Living Building’ scheme on the site of the former Oxford Street Woolworths (Image: Swansea Council)

Made up of the former Woolworths unit and a new adjoining 13-storey structure, the nearby ‘living building‘ scheme, which is earmarked for completion by the end of 2023, will include green walls and green roofs, an educational facility, retail, offices, a landscaped courtyard, rooftop solar panels, battery storage and gardens.

Pobl Group will manage 50 affordable apartments forming part of the scheme.

Further scheme features include an urban farm-style greenhouse set over four floors. Plants and vegetables will be grown in water and fed by waste pumped from fish tanks at the bottom of the building.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Construction

Leading city politicians give views on Penderyn progress at Morfa Copperworks

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Some of Swansea’s most senior politicians have toured a regeneration scheme set to be a new attraction for a leading Welsh business.

Swansea Council’s regeneration of the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks is well underway and will soon be handed over to drinks specialists Penderyn.

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Restored buildings and new neighbouring structures delighted council cabinet members who were shown around.

The site is being revamped by Swansea firm John Weaver Contractors on behalf of Swansea Council.

Swansea Council cabinet members at the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks. (Image: Swansea Council)
Swansea Council cabinet members at the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks. (Image: Swansea Council)

Cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “It’s wonderful to see the roof almost finished on the remarkable powerhouse – it shows that significant progress is being made.

“This initiative is going to be a big boost for our work on regenerating this part of the Lower Swansea Valley.

“Much of the scaffolding around the iconic powerhouse building is gone so the scheme is clearly taking shape.

Cabinet member Elliott King said: “Other parts of the Lower Swansea Valley were, only 60 years ago, a post-industrial wasteland. They’re now full of business, shopping and leisure opportunities for Swansea people – Penderyn will add to that.

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“One of the distillery project’s main new features – a walkway between the Penderyn visitor centre and their barrel store – is well advanced and it’s good to see some of the external landscaping being crafted.

“We plan other attractions in the Lower Swansea Valle Area, including the Skyline adrenalin-fuelled visitor attraction, so these are exciting times.”

How the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks looks today as it undergoes regeneration. (Image: Swansea Council)
How the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks looks today as it undergoes regeneration. (Image: Swansea Council)

Work continues on the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks site that’s due to become a new visitor attraction for Penderyn Whisky next year.

The council scheme will bring new life to the historic site’s powerhouse and outbuildings. An on-site distillery will add to the company’s existing facilities.

The work has been made possible thanks to a £3.75m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales.

Council leader Rob Stewart said: “We’re protecting our heritage for future generations and it’s great to see the restoration of this historic copperworks site leading the regeneration of the lower River Tawe corridor. 

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“Nearby heritage sites also being saved include two copperworks engine houses, the Palace Theatre building and the Albert Hall.” 

Construction at the copperworks began in summer 2020. The council aims to hand over the site for Penderyn’s fit-out this year. The scheme is part of the city’s £1bn regeneration programme that will help see Swansea grow. 

How the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks will look once Penderyn take up residence. (Image: Swansea Council)

The Lower Swansea Valley became the world leading centre for copper smelting in the 18th century. The Hafod-Morfa Copperworks site is of international importance, becoming the world’s largest copperworks in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century. 

The council secured the National Lottery Heritage Fund grant for the expansive Hafod-Morfa site’s transformation work, with additional works to other historical buildings in the vicinity supported by Welsh Government Regeneration funding. 

Lead image: Swansea Council cabinet members at the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks. (Image: Swansea Council)

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Construction

University expertise to help new ‘Living Building’ residents to grow own food on roof

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Swansea University’s Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research (CSAR) is a key partner in a pioneering ‘Biophilic Living‘ initiative which is said to provide a radical new approach to living and working within the city.

A first for the UK, the University says this unique project will trial a new, scalable model that is set to change the way we conceive of inner-city housing in Wales.

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The construction will transform the former Woolworths store on Oxford Street in central Swansea – opposite Waterstones bookshop – and feature a new adjoining 13-storey structure.

It will be a mixed-use building with affordable and shared ownership housing, retail and low carbon commercial office space.

Residents will have the capacity to grow their own produce using the integral urban farm facility. Featuring two south-facing greenhouses at roof level, the building will use an aquaponics system, developed by Swansea University academics, designed to produce up to 4.5 tonnes of fruits, vegetables, salads and herbs per year.

Aquaponics is a food production system that creates a continuous cycle where waste produced by fish, living in on-site tanks, adds nutrients to the water which feeds the greenhouse plants. The water is then filtered and recirculated back into the system. The process will be explained in an educational public display on the ground floor of the tower

The project has been awarded funding through the Welsh Government Innovative Housing Programme.

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Professor Geoff Proffitt, head of biosciences at Swansea University, explains: “The Biophilic Living development will clearly be an inspirational building for the people who will live and work there, but it is more than an exciting home and workplace. The building will be driven through with cutting-edge biological, design, and engineering innovations. It will be a living, working example of great design, innovation and existing technology combining to support and nurture human health and wellbeing.

“The Biophilic Living plan and the ethos that underpins its design and development is a focus for change, the start of a new sustainable, Biophilic urban regeneration of Swansea. If we are to fully respond to increasing global challenges, urban development and redevelopment will have to take a lead.

“The project will contribute to local and global goals to address the climate change emergency, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“Architects, designers, engineers and scientists will need to combine their skills to respond to these complex and immediate challenges. Biophilic Living is our first example of this collaborative approach”.

Swansea-based Hacer Developments is behind the scheme which has been designed by Swansea architects Powell Dobson. It is a result of extensive collaborative working among a range of local organisations, including Swansea University, the Active Building Centre, Public Health Wales, Swansea Community Farm and Sero Homes Ltd.

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The ‘living building’ is being funded by a mixture of private sector funding and funding from the Welsh Government’s Innovative Housing Programme, Pobl and the Development Bank of Wales.

The building is earmarked for completion by the end of 2023.

(Lead image: Powell Dobson / Hacer Developments)

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Bridgend

New development plan for Bridgend county moves to next stage

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A masterplan which will be used to determine what development takes place throughout Bridgend County Borough between now and 2033 has moved a step closer.

Cabinet members have agreed to refer the plan to a future meeting of full Council along with a recommendation that it be approved and submitted to Welsh Government for independent examination.

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The plan, which has taken three years to produce and is several hundred pages long, has been subject to a huge amount of research, evidence gathering and an extensive public consultation process which has taken into account more than 1,200 representations from local people.

The replacement Local Development Plan (LDP) features all of the policies that the authority will use when determining future planning applications. It sets out how land throughout the county borough can be used and which areas will be maintained as open space or designated for residential, employment, retail, waste, mineral development, community and tourism purposes.

The plan incorporates several potential development sites and includes locations at Porthcawl, Pyle, Pencoed, Island Farm and land to the west of Bridgend as well as sites identified within the town centre masterplan.

The replacement LDP proposes making enough land available to support projected increases in population, the development of 7,500 new jobs and the construction of 7,575 homes including 1,600 affordable dwellings, some of which have already been built, along with a 10 per cent flexibility allowance.

It also includes providing five new primary schools, transportation developments such as park and ride facilities for Porthcawl and the proposed Brackla railway station, extended / new park and ride facilities at Pyle, Maesteg Ewenny Road and Pencoed, and a new replacement road bridge over the railway at Pencoed.

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Under the LDP, all SINC wildlife sites and SSI scientific interest sites will be protected, and there are provisions for increasing public open space as well as the number of local allotments.

Other key developments include establishing a new passing loop and half-hour rail services to Maesteg, and bus corridor improvements in the Llynfi, Ogmore and Garw valleys, between Porthcawl and Cornelly and between Pyle, Aberkenfig and Pencoed.

Since its previous draft, several significant changes have been made to the LDP. Parc Afon Ewenny has been removed as a potential strategic housing site due to planning requirements on development within areas that are at risk of flooding, while a proposed site for gypsy and traveller accommodation on land located to the north-east of the council depot in Bryncethin has also been removed due to changes in identified need.

Elsewhere, flood prevention work carried out in Porthcawl has supported proposed regeneration development in the Salt Lake, Coney Beach and Sandy Bay areas.

Councillor John Spanswick, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “The replacement Local Development Plan has been three years in the making and is the result of a huge amount of research and analysis, and I think our planning team have done a fantastic and meticulous job in preparing it for the county borough.

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“It lays out a carefully-planned balance of residential, commercial and leisure development that will ensure Bridgend County Borough can meet future demand between now and 2033 while also encouraging fresh investment and employment.

“From the feedback received through public consultation, it is clear that some residents are concerned about the potential impact additional development could have upon existing healthcare facilities, traffic levels, schools, utilities and green space.

“I want to reassure them that under the terms of the LDP, no new development can take place unless it can also deliver whatever additional infrastructure improvements may be necessary, and that this includes things like roads, schools, GP surgeries, leisure, open space, community facilities and more.”

Council Leader Huw David added: “We are in the middle of a national housing crisis and are already supporting around 200 homeless families and individuals.

“Latest census data has also confirmed that Bridgend County Borough is now one of the fastest growing areas in Wales, and that we are keeping pace with much larger areas such as Cardiff.

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“People are living for longer, and the situation is only going to get worse unless we plan ahead now and ensure that more homes can be provided to meet this rising demand.

“At the same time, we have to carefully balance residential needs against developments that support new employment and investment, and the LDP enables us to do this while taking a huge range of additional guidance and legislation into account.

“The next step now is to discuss the LDP at Council, and to then submit it to Welsh Government where it will be independently assessed as part of an inquiry presided over by a planning inspector.

“Once that process has been concluded, the draft LDP will go before a meeting of full Council for a final decision, and if approved at that point, it will serve as the new LDP for the next 15 years.”

(Lead Image: Adobe Stock)

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