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Swansea city centre in Swanseamarker, Walesmarker, contains the main shopping, leisure and nightlife district in Swansea. The city centre covers much of the Castlemarker ward including the area around Oxford Street, Castle Square, and the Quadrant Shopping Centre; Alexandra Road, High Street, Wind Street and the Castle; Parc Tawe; and the Maritime Quartermarker extending down to the seafront.

History

Swansea's early 18th century industrial development shaped the development of today's city centre. However, the heart of the city centre was bombed severely in 1941 in what is now termed the "Three Nights Blitz". Forty one acres of the city centre and 857 premises were destroyed beyond repair. Many local businesses had to be relocated just outside of the area of devastation. The small area of Georgian streets around the Old Town Hall (now the Dylan Thomas Centremarker) and later buildings including the former Head Post Office on Wind Street, Swansea Harbour Trust Office (now Morgans Hotelmarker), the Castle cinemamarker and the Carlton Cinema on Oxford Street (now a Waterstone’s bookshop) are rare survivors of the former streets and buildings.

The bombing necessitated the complete rebuilding of the city centre, a task which fell upon the county borough of Swansea. Preliminary plans were drawn up in 1943, a Compulsory Purchase order was obtained in 1946 and reconstruction work began in 1947. The reconstruction task took over thirty years to accomplish.

The new centre was planned on a grid-pattern of roads including the main thoroughfares of Kingsway, Princess Way, West Way and Oystermouth Road. At the time of the initial post-war rebuilding, the River Tawe riverfront and the South Dock (now the Maritime Quarter) were still port and industrial areas, separated from the commercial districtby railway viaducts and roads. With the old shopping centre around High Street flattened, Swansea's main shopping district was rebuilt around the new Kingsway.

Redevelopment continued into the 1980s, including the construction of the Quadrant Shopping Centremarker, St. David's Shopping Centre, County Hallmarker, Parc Tawe and the demolition of railway viaducts at Victoria Road. These developments reinforced the the city centre as a largely retail centre with only limited office accommodation and housing. In recent years, a greater mix of uses has been encouraged in the city centre with the regeneration of the Maritime Quarter, Wind Street and Salubrious Place, the opening of the National Waterfront Museummarker and the refurbishment of Swansea Leisure Centremarker.

Economy

Swansea city centre provides about 24,000 jobs, or about 18% of jobs in the wider urban area. This is a low figure when compared to many other UK cities, which often have around a quarter, a third or even more of their employment in the city centre. Retail, hotel and restaurant jobs are strongly represented in Swansea city centre, and there is a growing finance and business services sector, but much of the employment that would normally be found in a city centre has instead been located in outer areas of Swansea.

Retail

The city centre currently features of comparison goods floorspace (clothing, furniture, electrical goods etc.) and of convenience goods floorspace (food and groceries). According to an analysis cited in the City Centre Strategic Framework, Swansea is the eighteenth largest retail centre in the UK, relatively large for its population. However, the general quality, range and size of city centre shops is poor, so Swansea is usually ranked outside the top 50 retail centres in the UK on various industry listings. The poor retail performance is believed to be the result of several factors, including poor urban design, lack of recent development and competition from out-of-town shops at Fforestfachmarker and Morfamarker.

Offices

Swansea city centre is not a major office location, although there are office premises including the BT Towermarker near Swansea Castlemarker, Oldway House/Alexandra House on High Street/Alexandra Road and the JobCentre Plus building near the St. David's Shopping Centre. In 2002, there was of office space in the city centre as a whole, and in the retail core. Relatively low rents, generally less than £8 per square foot, underline the weakness of the city centre office market. However, an additional is planned at SA1 Swansea Waterfront, adjacent to the city centre, and rents of £13 per square foot have been achieved here. The City Centre Strategic Framework notes that this demonstrates that a commercially-viable office market can eventually be developed in Swansea city centre.

Areas

Swansea Market/Quadrant Centre vicinity

At the heart of the city centre lies Swansea Market, the Quadrant Shopping Centremarker and the St. David's Shopping Centre. The Quadrant centre opened in the late 1970s and dominated by chain stores; it includes an adjacent multi-storey car park that opens directly into Debenhams on one floor. Swansea bus stationmarker is located on the western side of the centre, and Swansea Grand Theatremarker is next door to the station on Singleton Street. A Tescomarker superstore is located immediately south-east of the Quadrant.

High Street

High Street was once the main shopping street in Swansea and formed the central axis of the shopping centre. It was completely destroyed in World War II. Leaving just a few buildings standing gutted including half of the now demolished Woolworth Building, the Elysium Cinema building, the New Castle Buildings and smaller stores to the northern end including the historical Bush Inn.

Swansea Castlemarker is to be found at the southern end of the street. Opposite the castle is the Castle Square. Towards the northern end is Swansea railway stationmarker and the Swansea Grand Hotel. The stretch between the castle and railway station is dominated by local retailers, discount retailers and a few pubs, restaurants, fast-food outlets and five of Swansea's gay bars, Hush, Champers, Club 210, Talk of the Town (cabaret bar) and The Kings. The street becomes mainly residential, north of the railway station. In this residential stretch, there is one wedged shaped building on the corner with Prince of Wales Street. This is the Palace theatremarker, the venue where Anthony Hopkins staged his first professional performance, the oldest theatre in Wales, one of only 2 remaining purpose built music halls left in the United Kingdom and the first place in Wales to screen a moving picture. It was once used as a nightclub but is now mostly derelict.

The Kingsway/Oxford Street vicinity

Until the development of Wind Street as a nightlife zone, the Kingsway was the centre of night life in Swansea. While many of the bars have shut down due to competition from Wind Street bars, the largest night clubs in Swansea are still located here. Apart from the night life venues, The Kingsway has a number of banks, shops, fast food outlets and branch of the YMCA. Swansea's former main Post Office was located on this road too but recently moved to WH Smith inside the Quadrant Shopping Centre about away.

In 2006, the Kingsway was re-engineered to become a one way street for cars. The southern traffic lanes are now dedicated two way bus lanes developed in conjunction with the First Cymru's new Swansea Metro bus route. At the eastern end of the Kingsway was a large roundabout incorporating a pedestrian subway. The subway has now been filled in and the roundabout replaced with a traffic light crossroad and wider pedestrian walkways.

Oxford Street is now the main shopping street in Swansea. The street is dominated by chain stores. It belongs to a pedestrianised zone around Swansea Market and the Quadrant Centre. Oxford Street actually stretches from Castle Square to the east all the way to the far west of the Sandfields area. The Sandfields stretch of Oxford street is mainly residential.

Princess Way links Oxford Street and The Kingsway to the east. The David Evans department store on the street has been demolished and is currently undergoing re-development.

Street markets are held in the city centre during the Christmas season. They are usually sited on Oxford Street, Princess Way and Castle Square.

Wind Street/Salubrious Place

The New York Pub on Princess Way, parallel to Wind Street
Wind (waɪnd) Street was once a haunt of the poet Dylan Thomas and location of the covered alleyway 'Salubrious Passage'. It became a backwater in the second half of the 20th century when the commercial centre of Swansea shifted. It boasts the highest concentration of listed buildings in Swansea. Following redevelopment at the beginning of the 21st century it is now known for its pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants, including the No-Sign Wine Bar and The Olde Cross Keys pub. 2007 saw the completion of the development of the street's lower, south-eastern end as 'Salubrious Place', including an Aspers Casino, a Vue Cinema, a hotel, parking and additional eating and drinking venues.

During the Second World War, the pubs of Wind Street saw the visit of a young star-to-be. A group of American GIs stationed in Swansea entered the Adelphi pub. An Australian soldier also stationed in Swansea saw this and proceeded to taunt the young GI, who was drinking milk, that he was not strong enough to drink alcohol. Unfortunately for him he had picked on the young Rocky Marciano who went on to become one the world's greatest heavyweight boxers. Rocky floored him with one punch. Marciano himself confirmed this story .

Princess Way

Castle Square
Princess Way ( ) links Kingsway Circle to the north with Oystermouth Road to the south. The northern section of the street is fully pedestrianised and is fronted with shops. The southern section is fronted with pubs, restaurants and offices and has a Travelodge hotel, a Vue cinema and Aspers casino. The central portion of Princes Way opens onto two town squares.

Castle Square links Pricess Way with Castle Street. Castle Square is a concreted square that slopes upwards towards on steps to Swansea Castlemarker to the east forming an amphitheatre-like space. It has grass verges and a few trees on its sides, and two fountains. The square is faced to the south by Caer Street which is lined with shops in buildings which have a mock Tudor facade. In July 2008, a new permanent BBC TV big screen was constructed on the southern corner of Castle Square, which will show BBC coverage of Beijing 2008 and London 2012 as well as local content.

St. Mary's Square links Princess Way with Whitewalls. St. Mary's Church sits in the middle of the square. It is fronted by the Quadrant Centremarker to the east; a clothes shop to the north; and offices and shops to the south.

Parc Tawe

Parc Tawe is an area on the west bank of the River Tawemarker in the Lower Swansea valleymarker. The area includes several "out-of-town" style stores and entertainment units. There are car parking spaces in this area, but at peak periods this area is subject to traffic congestion. A highly visible building in the area is the Plantasiamarker - a large triangular tropical plant house. Entertainment in the area include a 10 screen cinema and a ten pin bowling alley.

Alexandra Road vicinity

Alexandra Road is in an area to the north of the city centre at the foot of Townhill. It is home to a campus Swansea Metropolitan University which has several premises in the area. The arts wing of the institute, is located in a building that once housed the Dynevor Secondary school. The Glynn Vivian Art Gallerymarker is located here as is Swansea Central police station is located here in a new building on the site that was once occupied by a fire station. It was relocated from an older building that stood on the corner of Orchard Street/Alexandra Road. The building next to the old police station, opposite the Glynn Vivian gallery once housed the old librarymarker, which has now been relocated to the Civic Centremarker. Both the old police station and library have been converted into student flats for students of Swansea Metropolitan University. The Swansea Magistrates Court is located opposite of the police station. The Mount Pleasant Baptist Church sits in the far south of the area on the Kingsway.

Entry and exit roads

St Helen's Road and Oystermouth Road

St Helens Road is the main street for entering and leaving the city centre from the south west of Swansea. The south side of the street is dominated by fast food outlets, restaurants, ethnic grocery stores and ethnic restaurants ranging from Indian to Chinese to Spanish. Bryn-y-mor Road links to St. Helen's where many student bars more restaurants can be found. The north side of the street has a number of solicitors and health centres. The road contiunes past the Guildhall after which it connects with Oystermouth Road. Oystermouth Road begins near the Leisure Centremarker and separates the shopping area of the city centre with the Maritime Quartermarker. It contiunues along the coast of Swansea Baymarker towards Mumblesmarker. The north of the road has a number of Bed and Breakfast establishments near the city centre area.

Walter Road

Walter Road is the main thoroughfare departing the city centre to the west, linking the city centre to the Uplandsmarker district. Most of the road consists of substantial three storey town houses, many of which are converted for use by small professional practices like accountants, solicitors, estate agents, civil engineers and surveyors. There are few properties left which are still residential with nearly all being used as flats and bedsits rather than family homes.

The side streets around Walter Road are mainly residential consisting mostly of three bedroomed properties. The residential mix consists mainly of families. A number of properties have been converted into bedsits for use by students of Swansea Universitymarker south of Walter Road and Swansea Metropolitan University north of Walter Road.

Carmarthen Road

Carmarthen Road is a stretch of the A483 road departing the city centre from the Dyfatty traffic junction in a north westerly direction. It is a dual carriageway for all of its length but its speed is limited to 30 or depending on the section of the road and is policed by speed cameras. Carmarthen Road has a mix of developments throughout its length including residential, retail and commercial parks and industrial units.

Fabian Way

Fabian Way, a stretch of the A483 road, departs the city centre to the east. It bypasses St. Thomasmarker and Port Tennantmarker to the north; and Swansea Docksmarker and the SA1 Swansea Waterfront development to the south. The Fabian Way continues through Crymlyn Burrowsmarker where it connects with the M4 Motorway at the Earlswood junction (M4 Junction 42). This is considered as the main gateway to the city centre in the east, because of the connection to the M4 and Neath Port Talbot.

Future plans

In January 2007, developers Hammerson and Urban Splash were chosen for a £1 billion redevelopment of the city centre. The two developers previously collaborated on Birminghammarker's Bullringmarker development. The plan by architects BDP , includes of additional retail space; 1,000 homes; new leisure, office, hotel and conference facilities; and a "European Boulevard" incorporating Oystermouth Road and Quay Parade.

The former David Evans department store is being replaced with a new development incorporating five stores trading over two floors, providing of retail space. Zara, Slater's Menswear and JT Morgan have signed up for the scheme.

In December 2008, the Council sought expressions of interest from contractors for the redevelopment of the Quadrant bus stationmarker. The Council said that it hopes to award the contract in May 2009, with work starting soon after. The project will take around 15 months to complete.

Local radio stations The Wave 96.4 FM and 1170 Swansea Sound have announced plans to move to the city centre.

Transport

The city centre is served by buses at the Swansea bus stationmarker and by trains at Swansea railway stationmarker at the northern end of High Street. Additional bus stops are located on the Kingsway and on St. Mary's Square. A new bus rapid transit route called the Swansea Metro is currently being implemented.

There are three Park and Ride sites with dedicated buses serving the city centre:
Park and Ride site Car Spaces Bus Number Livery Operator
Fabian Way, Port Tennantmarker 550 502 Blue First Cymru
Fforestfachmarker 449 503 Orange Veolia Transport Cymru
Landoremarker 550 501 Aquamarine First Cymru


A fourth Park and Ride site is planned for the south of Swansea with the proposed site located in Blackpillmarker serving both the city centre and Mumblesmarker.

See also



References

  1. Swansea city centre Strategic Framework
  2. City and County of Swansea - Salubrious Place
  3. City and County of Swansea - Quadrant MSCP details
  4. City and County of Swansea - Directions to the Grand
  5. BBC NEWS | Wales | South West Wales | Oldest theatre under hammer
  6. BBC Press Office: Swansea gets Big Screen spectacular
  7. Building Design Partnership - Urbanism - Projects - Swansea City Centre
  8. BBC NEWS | Wales | South West Wales | Developers chosen for £1bn revamp
  9. Swansea City Centre Strategic Framework - European Boulevard
  10. Re-development of the Former David Evans Department Store
  11. City and County of Swansea - Countdown to construction work on Quadrant Interchange begins
  12. A028066rep[2]070627v1.indd


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