Building the region

Building the region

At 4theRegion we’ve been very excited about the construction of Copr Bay. Phase one of this £135m project has brought Swansea an amazing new arena (where we hosted its first major conference!), a stunning new bridge, the first new park in the city centre since Victorian times, new apartments, and spaces for food and drink businesses.

Swansea Arena lit up for our Swansea City Centre Conference on March 17th 2022 (Pic: Adam Davies)

This has been a major boost for local workers and businesses. In fact, research has found the main growth driver for the Welsh construction sector is the £1bn worth of planned developments that will transform the centre of Swansea, which includes Copr Bay Phase One.

A report by Swansea Council and main contractor Buckingham Group found Copr Bay Phase One supported 8,000 person weeks of employment, apprenticeships and trainee placements. And it was good to see that 41.5% of supply chain spend stayed in the region, with 64% staying in Wales.

The development and construction sectors offer fantastic career opportunities, and we need to think about how we get more young people into the industry.

Why is that important?

A report by the Construction Industry Training Board has found, if Wales is to meet our projected growth prospects, we’ll need to recruit an extra 11,500 construction workers by 2026. If you, or someone you know, is interested in a career, the most in demand roles will be in bricklaying, the electrical trades, plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Regeneration is something we should all do together. So how do we ensure major projects are designed and delivered in a way that will provide long-term economic, social and environmental benefits for our region?

Some very exciting opportunities could come from the 20 year agreement Swansea Council recently confirmed with regeneration firm Urban Splash to transform the centre of Swansea with a series of £750m developments.

And last week, Urban Splash announced a joint venture with real estate developer Milligan to transform a 5.5 acre site in the area of St Mary’s Church. Early proposals include new office buildings, shared workspaces, apartments and an area for small creative businesses to make and sell their products.

Other ideas could include transforming the Civic Centre site into a mixed use destination, anchored by the beach, with new homes and a leisure and hospitality focus, and the residential led regeneration of a site in St Thomas featuring a new terraced walk providing direct access to the river for the first time in over 150 years.

And what other development projects could be coming to the region? We’ve taken a look at just a few of them.

Could a building feed us?

Bouygues UK have now started work on 71/72 Kingsway, which will 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! This ‘living building’ will include green walls and green roofs, an educational facility, retail, offices, a landscaped courtyard, rooftop solar panels, battery storage and gardens. Set to accommodate 600 workers, 71/72 Kingsway will be made up of the former Woolworths and a new 13 storey structure. Pobl Group will manage 50 affordable apartments forming part of the scheme.

What about somewhere to spend quality time and relax?

Swansea’s Castle Square was once much greener than it is now, and is set to return to its former glory. There will be more plants, lawned areas and trees, as well two green roofed commercial units, and a water jet feature which can be switched on or off for different events at different times.

How can old buildings be put back into use?

Old theatres and cinemas, which are have lain empty for years, are being given new life as spaces for local businesses and communities. Swansea’s Albert Hall and Port Talbot’s iconic Plaza building will also once again be entertainment venues, while Swansea’s Palace Theatre will become a home for tech, start-up and creative businesses, with workspaces for over 130 people.

How Swansea’s new city centre community hub could look (Pic: Austin-Smith:Lord Ltd)

Oxford Street’s former BHS/What! building will become the new central location for Swansea’s main library and key council services, such as housing, benefits, employability, lifelong learning, and archives. Designers say the appearance of the structure, built in the 1950s, will have an impact appropriate to a public building, with translucent cladding backlit as a beacon to attract visitors.

It’s hoped Carmarthen’s former Debenhams will also be transformed into a hub to deliver a range of health, wellbeing, learning and cultural services. It could also become home for some of Carmarthenshire’s museum collections, an exhibition space, and a welcome point for visitors to the town.

How can a building generate its own power?

That’s happening with the Bay Technology Centre! The 25,000 square foot office and laboratory space in Baglan Energy Park uses innovative design and materials, including specialist photovoltaic panels made to look like cladding, to provide a sustainable building that’s energy positive. The design also means the ‘thermal mass’ of exposed precast floor slabs can store and transfer heat from the building, providing a cost effective heating solution. The plan is to convert excess energy into hydrogen at the Hydrogen Centre nearby.

The Blue Eden project will go even further than that! A 9.5km tidal lagoon will provide the energy for a manufacturing plant, a battery facility, a floating solar array, a data centre, residential waterfront homes for 5,000 people, and approximately 150 floating eco-homes in Swansea waterfront. Blue Eden will create over 2,500 permanent jobs, support a further 16,000 jobs across the UK, and create additional jobs during its construction.

The pandemic has changed the way people think about their living space, community areas, and the importance of work-life balance. So how could we be living differently?

St Modwen wants to expand the Coed Darcy neighbourhood in Llandarcy, Neath. The huge site, a former oil refinery, is set to be home to more than 1,800 new homes, a school and shops. It will be an ‘innovative and sustainable new 15 minute neighbourhood’, where everything that’s important would be within a 15 minute walk or bike ride.

What about our health and wellbeing?

The first phase of the £199m wellness and life science village in Llanelli has been given the go ahead. Based at Delta Lakes, this will feature a new leisure centre, hydrotherapy pool, clinical and research space, and education and business space. The project will eventually feature four zones, including assisted living accommodation and clinical recovery space, spread over 83 acres. The contract with Bouygues UK included ‘the highest level of community benefits ever prescribed’, including targets for sourcing through local suppliers. It’s hoped Pentre Awel will create just over 1,800 jobs when completed.

What about innovation?

University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s £9.3m Innovation Matrix will be home to small but growing businesses. It’ll be a digital space, but with a manufacturing centre, testing laboratories and 3D printing facilities in UWSTD’s IQ building next door. The roof would feature solar panels, and the environmentally friendly building wouldn’t require any gas.

What about transport?

The Welsh Government’s flagship £200m Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) will create a hub for rolling stock and infrastructure testing, innovation, storage and maintenance at the site of the former Nant Helen opencast mine and Onllwyn coal washery at the head of the Dulais and Tawe Valleys, straddling the border between Neath Port Talbot and Powys.

It’s expected to create over 100 direct jobs, and could create many more as academic and industrial partners are attracted to the site. Featuring the UK’s first net zero railway, GCRE will include the first comprehensive rail testing and innovation facility of its kind in the world, with capacity and capabilities for rigorous testing of rolling stock, infrastructure, and integrated systems from prototype to implementation.

And what about tourism?

The steel framework of the new Hafod-Morfa Copperworks clock tower is put in place (Pic: Swansea Council)

The Hafod-Morfa Copperworks were once the largest copperworks in the world. After lying derelict for years, work started to transform it into a new visitor attraction for Penderyn Whisky. Much of the new visitor centre is now up. The roof of the powerhouse, which will include an on-site distillery, is well advanced. And contractors John Weaver will recreate the powerhouse’s original clock tower. Plans also include a shop, tasting bar, exhibition space, offices and VIP bar in the fully refurbished grade two listed building.

Regeneration is something we should all do together. We need to ensure major projects are designed and delivered in a way that will provide long-term economic, social and environmental benefits for our region.

4theRegion are hosting our next Construction & Development Sector Forum on July 12th. Meet businesses and organisations from your sector to talk about opportunities to collaborate for the greater good in South West Wales. Hear from 4theRegion members and partners about their work in the region, their social purpose, and their ambitions for the future, emerging opportunities to collaborate and support each other across South West Wales! You can register your free place here.

Everybody’s Business

Everybody’s Business

At 4theRegion we want to ensure South West Wales is a welcoming and safe region where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and progress fulfilling careers. Building cohesive communities is about developing neighbourhoods, social spaces and workplaces where difference is welcomed and celebrated. This involves moving beyond narratives of ‘us’ and ‘them’ towards a greater sense of trust and a shared sense of belonging.

How can businesses play a role in supporting cohesive communities? (Pic: fauxels)

Building a more cohesive society is everybody’s business. We are all part of the social fabric, the strength of which can be an important influence on our wellbeing as communities and individuals. We all have a responsibility to build and maintain the relationships, connections and understandings which make up that social fabric. Cohesion is a shared objective, in which every person, community and organisation has a role to play.

So how can we support social cohesion?

A new report from Belong looks at just that! Everybody’s Business, produced in conjunction with the Intercultural Cities Network, sets out how businesses can play a role in supporting cohesive communities, and how local authorities can support them in doing this. The report draws its findings from a series of roundtable conversations with local authorities and businesses in a number of towns and cities across the UK, including Swansea.

Belong use the term ‘social cohesion’ to describe how well people from different backgrounds mix, interact and get along with each other. Those differences can be ethnicity, faith, social class, age, gender, sexuality, or a range of other differences that might potentially divide us.

There’s lots of potential to support community cohesion within a business! Research shows that workplaces can provide the opportunity for people from different backgrounds to connect in a way that leads to more positive attitudes towards diversity and higher levels of social cohesion. If you work in a diverse workplace you’re more likely to have friends from different backgrounds, although your interactions will need to be more than passing for the effects to extend beyond the workplace.

By their very nature, some businesses represent vital social infrastructure providing opportunities for people to meet and mix across different boundaries. And the experience of the pandemic has made clear the vital importance of these shared spaces! As ‘third places’, other than home and work, they provide a venue where members of the community can interact with one another informally, and where collective space can be provided for community initiatives such as charitable fundraising.

So how can you as a business help maximise the positive impact you have?

First and foremost, recruiting a workforce which fully reflects the diversity of local communities, across all functions and levels of seniority, is necessary for any business that wants to support social cohesion.

As a business, you can promote an inclusive culture through cohesion aware management. This means creating a climate of openness and trust, ensuring demographic attributes (ethnicity, gender, sexuality etc) do not overlap with functional roles and supporting meaningful interactions between people of all backgrounds across the workforce, are key elements of workplaces that support cohesion.

You can enable minorities and diverse groups to lead innovation. Ensuring that innovation is led by diverse teams and people from under represented groups enables better understanding of the needs of communities and increases awareness of market and product opportunities that might otherwise be missed.

You can invest in social infrastructure in the local community. What can you do to support welcoming, inclusive community spaces? This could be in the course of your everyday operations or, for example, through the innovative use of your commercial property.

Businesses can also deliver added social value by supporting community organisations and initiatives which build cohesive communities.

You can do this by partnering with a local community group or charity. Imagine if more businesses were regularly twinned with a local community group or charity as part of an ongoing relationship? This could involve sponsorship or support in kind, and would help deepen the connections between a business and the community around it.

You can provide direct support through employee volunteering. You can enable more employee volunteering which aids charities, community groups and hubs supporting community life and bringing people together. This helps to connect employees to the community and to people from different backgrounds.

You can localise your supply chain. By applying the ‘think local’ principle to as much of their supply chain as possible, businesses can extend more opportunities to the local community, and help to strengthen the networks of social and economic ties that can support cohesive communities.

And, wherever possible, you should evaluate the impact of work that you’re doing to support social cohesion.

It’s great to see the report citing our members Gower Gas and Oil as example of what businesses in the region are already doing! The heating services company has led a variety of initiatives to address social isolation. The #DontDanceAlone social media campaign, in partnership with The Wave and Swansea Sound, has raised awareness of isolation amongst older people and helped raise money for older people’s charities. Gower Gas and Oil also help coordinate the Gower Isolation Support Group, which helps ensure that isolated older people are visited regularly, with a view to ensuring positive social and health outcomes, which was particularly important during lockdown.

And what can local authorities do to support businesses to do all this? The report says they can provide leadership by being clear about how businesses can support local cohesion objectives and playing a coordinating role in helping them do so. They can incentivise businesses to act through highlighting cohesion outcomes in their approach to procurement and social value, and by recognising businesses that do this well. And they create an evaluation framework based on local needs, providing a robust and rigorous framework for evaluating cohesion oriented activity that businesses carry out, including shared measures and reporting.

Everyone has a role to play in building and maintaining cohesive communities. And it is particularly good to see a report which focusses on the often under appreciated role businesses can play in supporting social cohesion. If you’d like to find out more about how businesses can be a force for good, join us at the Introbiz Expo on April 7th!

4theRegion is an alliance of people, businesses and organisations across South West Wales, who love where we live and want our region to flourish. We connect people, share good news and enable collaboration, through our forums, events, projects and comms, for a future that promotes the wellbeing of people and planet. Support our movement and be part of the solution!

How do we get there?

How do we get there?

Last week 4theRegion hosted our City Centre Conference. We’re so proud to have been the first major exhibitor at the new Swansea Arena – which looks amazing! We had over a hundred and twenty exhibitors and over two thousand five hundred people registered to attend.

We all have a part to play in the transition to a greener, healthier, more equal, more integrated, more accessible and more affordable transport system (Pic: MART PRODUCTION)

Even before our conference had taken place interest in Swansea Arena was already skyrocketing. They expect their calendar to be pretty much full for the next six months, but say they’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of the potential for city wide events. These events would involve the arena working with hotels and other venues across the city. We’d see the hotels fully booked and Swansea really put on the map for conferences!

Of course it isn’t just conference goers that we’ll be welcoming to our wonderful region. An integrated, sustainable travel network is essential to prosperity and wellbeing, with tourism being a key economic driver for South West Wales. And we all have a part to play in the transition to a greener, healthier, more equal, more integrated, more accessible and more affordable transport system. We need to work collaboratively to address the challenges we face, to create flourishing local places, connected by inclusive and sustainable transport that meets the needs of businesses, serves communities, and improves wellbeing across the region.

So how do we get there?

How about a rail network integrated with bus routes, ticketing and timetables, so that you can seamlessly switch between trains and buses to get to your destination? This is the vision for the Swansea Bay and West Wales Metro. It’ll also offer an enhanced rail network with new stations serving Swansea’s outlying communities and a significantly increased number of trains stopping at stations every hour. An extension of the much publicised South Wales Metro, developed for Cardiff and the surrounding area, we’ve been told the Swansea Bay and West Wales Metro will start to deliver visible results this year.

Another key component of the Metro are plans to introduce hydrogen buses as part of a pilot scheme in Swansea Bay and Pembrokeshire. And these aren’t the only clean solution to road travel in the region. Eight electric buses will replace diesel buses on the route between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth by the end of this year.

But of course it isn’t just about public transport. How do we travel more sustainably as individuals and businesses? For some people the solution might be an e-bike. You pedal it like a regular bike but it has a battery to get you more easily up hills or to enable you to cover longer distances. But how do you know if one would be right for you? Well how about a free trial? If you live in Swansea, Sustrans could offer you a four week trial of an e-bike absolutely free!

But an even more exciting travel solution is an e-cargo bike! If you’re a business in Swansea business you could be eligible for a three month trial to see if one of them could be right for you. This too is absolutely free!

Could an e-cargo bike benefit your business? Research has found e-cargo bikes make deliveries about 60% faster than vans in city centres. Vans can obviously travel along clear stretches of road much faster, but they get slowed down by congestion and have to spend time looking for parking spaces. E-cargo bikes, on the other hand, can bypass traffic jams, take shortcuts through streets closed to through traffic and ride directly to the customer’s door. On average, e-cargo bikes will drop off ten parcels an hour, compared to six parcels for vans. They also cut carbon emissions by 90% compared with diesel vans, and by a third compared to electric vans. Recent estimates suggest that up to 51% of all freight journeys in European cities could be replaced by e-cargo bikes.

And what else do we want to see?

We think transport should be regarded as a universal basic service – like healthcare and education. Low cost, or better still free, public transport is central to creating a healthier, more equal, more prosperous region and achieving Wales’ climate emergency commitments. We also need much more infrastructure for charging electric vehicles across the region, but we’re not sure private electric cars are the answer or will, in themselves, be enough to address the climate crisis or transport inequality. So how about EV car share projects, which would be supported in communities and by employers? This would ensure everyone has access to a car, without actually needing to own one.

An integrated, sustainable travel network is essential to prosperity and wellbeing. At 4theRegion, we’ve been thinking a lot about how we can get there. Read our Transport Manifesto to find out more.

Help create a happier, healthier region with a thriving economy! Your support and involvement makes our work possible! We welcome you to join 4theRegion, to demonstrate your commitment to South West Wales and to access our support.

UWTSD Library launches new exhibition to celebrate the bicentenary

UWTSD Library launches new exhibition to celebrate the bicentenary

The Library and Learning Resources department at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David has launched a new special collections exhibition both on campus and online to kick start the University’s bicentenary celebrations.

Bishop Thomas Burgess and his vision for a Welsh College

The bicentenary commemorates the establishment of St David’s College, Lampeter on 12 August 1822 through the laying the foundation stone which marks the beginning of higher education in Wales. From the seeds sown in Lampeter over two centuries ago and the development of our campuses, we have grown into a multi-campus, dual-sector University providing vocationally relevant programmes in partnership with employers.

The exhibition ‘Bishop Thomas Burgess and his vision for a Welsh College’ looks back at Bishop Burgess’s vision to create a higher education institution in west Wales. He established St David’s College, Lampeter to provide local Welsh-speaking men who wanted to join the priesthood an education.

The first half of the exhibition describes Burgess’ vision for a college in West Wales and how for over twenty years Bishop Burgess was committed to the vision. The archives hold a large number of letters and documents that reveal the tremendous work he undertook to achieve the vision.

The second half of the exhibition talks about Bishop Burgess’ own sizeable collection of books which he bequeathed to Lampeter. The collection includes a magnificent 1279 manuscript of the Vulgate, and a copy of The Golden Legend, describing the lives of saints, printed by Williams Caxton’s successor Wynkyn de Worde.

Alison Harding, Executive Head of Library and Learning Resources said: “I’d like to welcome everyone to our first Special Collections and Archives exhibition of 2022. Bishop Thomas Burgess was committed in his vision to create a higher education institution in west Wales, so it is fitting that we celebrate here the life and work of Bishop Burgess as the university enters its bicentenary year.

“The University Archives hold a large number of letters and documents which reveal the tremendous work he undertook to achieve this vision. They tell a story of a man dedicated to his role as Bishop of St David’s, who was also committed to the provision of educational opportunities in his diocese. Through this exhibition we can be inspired by this remarkable individual and be motivated to continue to build on his legacy to transform education and transform lives.”

The exhibition will be on show from January 4th until the end of the month at the Lampeter campus Library, and in the Fforwm Library on the Swansea Waterfront campus. The exhibition also will be available to view online too.

University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Market shoppers enjoy taste of market’s new attraction

Market shoppers enjoy taste of market’s new attraction

City centre shoppers are enjoying a sociable and relaxing new experience in Swansea Market.

Lord Mayor of Swansea Cllr Mary Jones at the launch of Swansea’s Market’s new Market Garden

The iconic venue has just become yet more welcoming.

The Market Garden – a new area at the heart of the venue – is a new place where people can eat, work and enjoy themselves. They take food and drink there having bought it from nearby market stalls.

Its launch was welcomed on Saturday, December 4, with a visit by Lord Mayor of Swansea Cllr Mary Jones.

Ailie Kenna at the launch of Swansea’s Market’s new Market Garden

Gwaun Cae Gurwen Brass Band helped usher in the new era, there was more music from singer-songwriter Ailie Kenna and there was fun with festive characters Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, The Grinch and Elf on the Shelf.

Elf on the Shelf at the launch of Swansea’s Market’s new Market Garden

The market’s Christmas-themed best dressed stall competition was won by Janet’s Café, with Arlene’s Sweetie Jar and Nonna’s running the winner close.

The green-themed Market Garden, developed by Swansea Council, features more than 170 plants together with an assortment of comfortable, garden-style tables and chairs for visitors to enjoy food and drink bought from a wide variety of market stalls.

The new young plants will grow to make the space more green, any plants struggling to bed in will be replaced and seasonal flowers will also be added at appropriate times.

The new attraction’s name celebrates a previous era when the centre of the venue was traditionally home to a flower market.

Operated in line with latest Covid guidelines, it has power charging facilities, recycling bins and a water station to refill water bottles. Free public Wi-Fi is planned.

Highchairs are available to those with young children. There are warmers for baby bottles and food – and there’s a toddlers’ play table.

For the first time, dog lovers can take their well-behaved pets to the market. Dogs can enjoy a bowl of water at Swansea Jack’s kennel – as long as they follow the market’s new “doggie rules.”

Swansea’s Market’s new Market Garden eating, meeting and greeting area

Bakery stallholder Jan Evans said: “The Market Garden is a fantastic addition to the market in an area that was previously not very heavily used.

“Visually, it’s a huge improvement and it’s wonderful to see our customers enjoying using this new facility already.

“I’m really looking forward to having new events there and I’m sure it’ll prove to be of benefit to everyone in the market.”

Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “The market will play a key role in Swansea’s great future, being led by our £1bn regeneration scheme.

“Its Market Garden is part of a £440,000 improvement programme at this wonderful venue. It’s accessible, inclusive, well managed and will bring new footfall for traders to benefit.

“It’s designed for the benefit and enjoyment of all customers – for meeting friends and family, catching up on work and enjoying the fantastic range of food available from the market.

“It’s set to become a popular destination and is a flexible space that can also host events and exhibitions which will help attract a broader audience.”

Swansea’s Market’s new Market Garden eating, meeting and greeting area

The market, run by the council, attracts more than four million shoppers a year in non-pandemic times and is the permanent home to more than 100 businesses.

The Market Garden, which is close to the famous cockle stalls, is visible from every direction due to its 7.5m-high pergola, the shape of which mirrors the market’s monumental domed roof.

The new attraction’s design and name were decided by the public as part of a consultation exercise this year. Traders had an input too.

Key for the traders was maintaining sight lines across the market. This was achieved by designing an open pergola without any walls but onto which decorative features can be hung to add greenery and create atmosphere.

The Market Garden stands on a formerly under-used and relatively unattractive space in the centre of the market. It previously had tables rented by the day by casual traders.

They have ceased trading in that area but will remain in the market, hiring other space. They have the option of using a smart new area a few yards away, next to the world-famous stalls that sell cockles, laver-bread and other delicacies.

Swansea’s Market’s new Market Garden eating, meeting and greeting area

More: www.swanseaindoormarket.co.uk

Swansea Council

First look at Carmarthen bus station revamp and ‘green roof’ bus shelter plans

First look at Carmarthen bus station revamp and ‘green roof’ bus shelter plans

People are being given the chance to help shape the revamp of Carmarthen town centre’s bus station.

Carmarthenshire County Council, working with transport engineering group Atkins, has secured funding to improve and enhance the bus station in Blue Street.

Feedback from investigations and user surveys show that the existing bus shelters are too small and do not provide sufficient shelter for waiting passengers.

These are being replaced with two new continuous shelters to provide better weather protection and ‘green-roof’ canopies to help capture carbon and attract bees and butterflies.

A small number of hornbeam trees that are constrained by the current shelters will need to be removed, however a larger range of new trees and ornamental shrubbery will be planted to compensate and add more greenery to the Blue Street area.

Further improvements will include the widening of the central reserve and enhanced landscaping of the area to bring people closer to nearby shops and businesses.

The council and Atkins are now seeking public views to help them shape final design proposals.

Members of the public, town centre businesses and stakeholders, public transport operators and users, and anyone else with an interest in the scheme, is being invited to provide feedback on the plans and ask questions about the scheme.

Cllr Hazel Evans, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Encouraging people to use public transport and sustainable travel options is a key priority for the council.

“These improvements will not only enhance the bus station but also support our commitment to tackling climate change by introducing more green infrastructure, helping capture carbon emissions and attract a diversity of wildlife.

“The work ties in with other town centre improvements to encourage people into town and provide more safe space for people and businesses as part of our post Covid-19 economic recovery plan.

“A few small trees that are currently constrained will need to be removed as part of these works, but we look forward to bringing the county’s first green roof bus shelters to Carmarthen and planting more trees than we are removing to capture more carbon emissions than the current bus station can.”

Construction is due to start in January and will take around three months to complete.

The council and Atkins will work with local businesses to ensure minimal disruption around delivery times and peak periods, with parking and loading bays maintained throughout the works.

Signage and information will be posted in advance and during the works to redirect buses and passengers to temporary stops just around the corner in Lammas Street, near the Rose and Crown.

People can view and feedback on the proposals by visiting www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales.

Comments and questions will help inform the final design scheme and timing of the works.

Carmarthenshire County Council