A high-profile Swansea Council scheme to bring more key public services to the heart of the city centre has received a major funding boost.
A £2m grant from the Welsh Government has been provided – and a further £3.5m is available to the council to develop the former BHS store as a public focal point.
The funding is being provided under the Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns initiative that provides support to improve town centres across Wales.
Council leader Rob Stewart said: “This substantial funding will help us deliver an outstanding venue for people to meet and to access a range of public services that are important to them.
“The Welsh Government has confidence in our plans for our city centre as we forge ahead with our city’s £1bn regeneration.
“The public are already telling us how excited they are about having this new community hub in such an accessible, central location.”
Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters said: “I am pleased we have been able to support this significant scheme in Swansea city centre.
“Reusing buildings in a way that increases access to services is a fantastic example of how our Transforming Towns programme delivers real change by focusing on the diversification and sustainable growth of our town and city centres.”
The hub, in Oxford Street’s former BHS and What! store, could be visited by thousands of people every week.
The aim is for the building – which could open next year – to be a welcoming base for services delivered by the council and other organisations.
Council services being considered to relocate there include Swansea Library, the West Glamorgan Archive Service and the Contact Centre.
All are now accessed by the public at the Civic Centre which is due to be redeveloped as part of the city’s council-driven regeneration.
Other services due to move to the hub include the council’s Revenue and Benefits service, Housing Options and Tenancy Support Unit (TSU), Employability, Life-long Learning and Local Studies and Family History services. The hub will also provide an integrated community and activity space to be accessed by voluntary and community groups from across Swansea.
Council staff and the public are being kept up to date on plans. The council continues to consider options for their future locations of other Civic Centre-based services.
Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “The Transforming Towns grant is an important step for our community hub plan.
“The hub will be of great use to the public – and easily accessible to all.
“Many services will be easier to access in a more welcoming environment – and no services will be lost in the move.
“The development will bring increased footfall for city centre businesses, creating and maintaining city centre jobs; it’s a key factor in our aim to regenerate Swansea.”
The council made a series of policy commitments in June to deliver support – in the subsequent 100 days – to communities that will make a real difference to people’s lives. Continuing to deliver a £1 billion regeneration of the city centre was one of those commitments.
Plans for the hub reveal a striking fresh design just yards from a new-look Castle Square Gardens, Kingsway and Wind Street. It’ll be a short walk from the Quadrant bus station and other public transport services.
The public have been consulted and planners have approved a change of use application.