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From the Palace Theatre to the City Deal - here’s our wish-list of projects we hope will progress in 2019

SWANSEA has plenty to shout about, but it could al­ways be im­proved. In 2018, some great things hap­pened in the area. Mu­sic fans were de­lighted when the Big­gest Week­end came to Sin­gle­ton Park in May and then we were treated to The Killers at the Lib­erty Sta­dium in June.

Swansea’s Half Marathon was a big suc­cess, with run­ners en­joy­ing beau­ti­ful weather, while we also had the Swansea Triathlon. And Mum­bles was ranked the best place to live in Wales by The Sun­day Times.

How­ever, there was also some un­cer­tainty and doubt over sev­eral ma­jor projects for the area.

So here is what we need to hap­pen in Swansea in 2019:

Com­ple­tion of The Kingsway de­vel­op­ment

The Kingsway is cur­rently un­der­go­ing a mas­sive transformation into a city park in­cor­po­rat­ing new pub­lic ar­eas, land­scaped zones, cy­cle tracks and a two-way sin­gle lane ve­hi­cle route, along with the cre­ation of wider pedes­trian walk­ways.

Around 170 new trees are be­ing in­tro­duced as part of the £12 mil­lion makeover the coun­cil has said will trans­form the look and feel of the area. The work is part of Swansea Coun­cil’s plans to re­gen­er­ate the city cen­tre and is ex­pected to be com­pleted in the sum­mer of 2019. After months of dis­rup­tion and road­works, it will be great to see it com­pleted.

2 Work start­ing on the indoor arena and coastal park

Plans for a 3,500-seater indoor arena and coastal park were ap­proved by Swansea plan­ning chiefs in Oc­to­ber last year.

Work on the £120 mil­lion project is ex­pected to start early this year, with the arena sit­ting along­side a new park on the south side of Oys­ter­mouth Road.

Across the road, linked by a new pedes­trian bridge, will be a multi-storey car park, 27 flats and be­low them new com­mer­cial units. The coun­cil has in­sisted it is not a gam­ble and say the arena and the park will give peo­ple “a rea­son to visit Swansea in the years ahead”. In that case, let’s get the work started and make this hap­pen.

3 A so­lu­tion for the Palace Theatre

A beau­ti­ful build­ing, it has been ne­glected and in de­cline after be­ing left empty for years.

The his­toric theatre in Swansea’s High Street, which opened as a mu­sic hall in 1888 and hosted the likes of Char­lie Chap­lin, Lau­rel and Hardy, and Sir An­thony Hop­kins, sur­vived Swansea’s Three Nights’ Blitz dur­ing the Se­cond World War.

It be­came a gay night­club in the early 1980s and a dance venue in the 1990s, but has fallen into dis­re­pair since.

It has ap­peared on The The­atres Trust’s list of most at-risk venues in Wales and Eng­land and, in 2017, it was the cen­tre of a protest when cam­paign­ers tried to make the theatre le­vi­tate to raise aware­ness of the de­cay­ing build­ing.

The Kent-based own­ers have been given £75,000 in the past to tidy and se­cure the build­ing, but it re­mains fenced-off and is sadly be­com­ing an eye­sore.

This theatre is part of Swansea’s history and some­thing needs to be done about it.

Swansea City to keep their best play­ers in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow

Swansea sold so many play­ers in the sum­mer there were fears how the club would fare in the Cham­pi­onship this sea­son.

Out the door went high-earn­ing, es­tab­lished names re­placed with young, un­proven play­ers with lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence.

Gra­ham Pot­ter, him­self new to the club, set about in­te­grat­ing some of the academy boys into the set-up and has done a very good job in a short space of time – in what must be de­scribed as difficult cir­cum­stances.

Con­cerns have risen over whether the club can keep hold of stars like Con­nor Roberts, Joe Rodon and Daniel James.

All three have signed new con­tracts in re­cent weeks, but due to Swansea’s sum­mer be­hav­iour and se­cond-tier sta­tus, los­ing play­ers is al­ways go­ing to be a con­cern­ing pos­si­bil­ity. Keep­ing them – and men such as Ber­sant Celina – is ab­so­lutely vi­tal.

5A de­cent Christ­mas pa­rade

Last year’s Christ­mas pa­rade left many dis­ap­pointed, with some even call­ing it ‘the worst ever.’ Crowds gath­ered in the city cen­tre be­fore the main event got un­der way, but many peo­ple com­plained about the dis­ap­point­ing num­ber of floats in­cluded in the pa­rade, and some said it only lasted five min­utes.

Sim­i­lar an­gry com­ments were made about the event two years ago as the tra­di­tional pa­rade was ditched in favour of ac­ro­bats sus­pended be­neath a gi­ant arch and a big bal­loon.

But 2017’s pa­rade, in­spired by the Po­lar Ex­press, was a real crowd pleaser as it fea­tured Dis­ney princesses, and Swansea Bay’s fa­mous land train was even dec­o­rated for the oc­ca­sion. Next year, could we please have some­thing de­cent for a city of Swansea’s size?

6 More progress on the ca­ble cars

Last sum­mer, plans to build a ca­ble car and zi­plines in the city took a ma­jor step for­ward after the coun­cil and the com­pany be­hind the project signed a heads of terms agree­ment on the de­vel­op­ment.

The de­vel­op­ment would fea­ture a ca­ble car from the hill­top of Kil­vey Hill to the river­bank Hafod-morfa Cop­per­works site, luge tracks, zi­plines, hill­top food and drink fa­cil­i­ties, chair­lift and ter­mi­nal build­ings, such as a ticket of­fice and re­cep­tion area. The cre­ation of a high-qual­ity leisure de­vel­op­ment has been in the pipe­line for a while now so it would be good to see some ac­tual progress.

7 Clar­ity on whether the la­goon will ever hap­pen

After weeks of a big shadow hang­ing over the plans, the UK Govern­ment for­mally turned down the bid to build a tidal la­goon in Swansea Bay at the end of June.

It had been hoped that the £1.3 bil­lion scheme would be a pi­lot project that would pave the way for much larger la­goons in Cardiff, New­port and Col­wyn Bay. But the UK Govern­ment has de­cided the project does not of­fer value for money.

The plans were then res­ur­rected in July. By this point, peo­ple just want to know whether it is go­ing ahead or not.

8 At least some of the fake shops in the city cen­tre are re­placed with real ones

Last year, as it be­came in­creas­ingly hard not to no­tice some of the empty shops in the city cen­tre, more very odd shops started to ap­pear. They have no in­side –

just a 3D-look­ing shop front-sized pic­ture which might fool a brief glance in that di­rec­tion that this is a real store. It isn’t.

Swansea Busi­ness Im­prove­ment Dis­trict (Bid) and Swansea Coun­cil both say the move is a small part of a wider re­gen­er­a­tion project in Swansea, with Swansea Bid hav­ing pre­vi­ously said it helps to re­cruit new ten­ants for units, re­vers­ing that de­cline.

This year, it would be great to see some more new, ac­tual shops com­ing to the city.

9Progress on the City Deal

The City Deal for Swansea, Neath Port Tal­bot, Car­marthen­shire and Pem­brokeshire com­prises 11 pub­lic-pri­vate projects which aim to boost the re­gion’s un­der-per­form­ing econ­omy over the next 15 years, in­clud­ing the cre­ation of 10,000 jobs.

Among oth­ers, a new post is be­ing cre­ated to help en­sure young peo­ple in the city don’t miss out on thou­sands of jobs which will be cre­ated by the £1.3 bil­lion City Deal for the city and wider re­gion.

It is cru­cial some progress is made on the projects to keep the pub­lic’s con­fi­dence the City Deal can make a real dif­fer­ence.

10 A so­lu­tion to the prob­lem of student homes in Bryn­mill and Up­lands

There are thou­sands of stu­dents in Swansea – lat­est fig­ures show that Swansea Uni­ver­sity alone has around 20,000 – and they all need some­where to live in the city.

How­ever, stu­dents and longer term res­i­dents of ar­eas such as Up­lands and Bryn­mill are fre­quently at odds over how they live their lives. Park­ing, rub­bish and noise are some of the main is­sues.

Swansea Coun­cil is tak­ing for­ward pro­pos­als to limit HMOS in Swansea, with a sug­ges­tion that no more than 25% of res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties in Up­lands and sur­round­ing streets are HMOS.

The level pro­posed for the rest of the city, in­clud­ing St Thomas, is 10%.

But ar­gu­ments con­tinue and a so­lu­tion needs to be found for the sake of all par­ties in­volved.

11 Mum­bles Pier to be re­fur­bished and re-opened

Mum­bles Pier is cur­rently un­der­go­ing a £3.2 mil­lion restora­tion project which has seen sec­tions of the Swansea Bay land­mark stripped apart. Fea­tures from the Vic­to­rian pe­riod were re­moved for stor­age and re­fur­bish­ment and the over­all scheme, which also in­cludes an up­graded pav­il­ion plus a new coastal board­walk ex­tend­ing out into the wa­ter, has been na­tion­ally recog­nised as an ex­am­ple of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.

It will be fantastic to see the land­mark re-opened, which is sched­uled for some time in 2019.

12More so­cial hous­ing

Swansea Coun­cil – which owns 13,528 so­cial hous­ing prop­er­ties – doesn’t keep fig­ures on wait­ing lists for so­cial hous­ing. How­ever, like many places across the UK, there is a so­cial hous­ing short­age and there are sev­eral projects across the city to tackle this.

Last year, the coun­cil built 10 houses and eight flats in Mil­ford Way, Blaeny­maes – the first coun­cil-built homes in the city in nearly 40 years.

And, last sum­mer, plans to de­velop 16 new homes at Parc Yr He­lyg, in Birch­grove, were ap­proved.

Let’s keep this go­ing as so­cial hous­ing is much needed.

13 More cruise ships to visit Swansea

The Swansea to Cork ferry ran for 19 years be­fore the op­er­a­tor sold the boat in late 2006.

Since the ser­vice was sus­pended at the end of 2006, cam­paign­ers, lo­cal coun­cils, busi­ness groups and the port au­thor­i­ties in Cork and Swansea have made ef­forts to re­store it.

In June, it was an­nounced that a cruise ship would be com­ing to the city and, car­ry­ing up to 620 pas­sen­gers, MS Amadea vis­ited Swansea on July 20 dur­ing a twoweek cruise around the Bri­tish Isles.

It would be great to have more cruise ships vis­it­ing Swansea in 2019 and the years ahead.

More progress on the ca­ble cars

More cruise ships to visit Swansea

A so­lu­tion for the Palace Theatre

Mum­bles Pier to be re­fur­bished and re-opened

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