A big step is about to be taken in the creation of a new central Swansea location for the city’s main library and other key services.

The Swansea city centre building being transformed into a community hub

Contractors are set to begin preparatory work in the former BHS/What! building next week.

In under two years it is due to be a local services hub. Current proposals are that it will offer easy access to council services, including the library that’s set to move from the Civic Centre. It’ll be joined by a range of other services – and the hub could offer access to the West Glamorgan Archive Service.

The hub, along with other city centre work hubs, will protect or create thousands of jobs and increase footfall in the city centre over the coming years.

The proposal for the local services hub – currently including a new central library and other key services – is being developed by Swansea Council. When open in 2023 it will be visited by thousands of people every week.

The council is also making progress on innovation hub 71/72 Kingsway – where building work is due to start this year – and on a public sector work hub between the eye-catching new Copr Bay bridge and St Mary’s Church.

The Swansea city centre building being transformed into a community hub

Council leader Rob Stewart said: “Progress is being made on these three major employment hubs that will bring people to our city centre; the public sector hub alone will create and protect thousands of city centre jobs.

“At the former BHS building – right next to Castle Square, which we also plan to revitalise – work crews are set to go in from next week. They will carry out important tasks to prepare for the building’s transformation in the months to come.

“We want residents to have easy access to all council services – such as the library – and to bring more people to the heart of the city centre.

“Our public services hub will do that. It’ll be accessible, conveniently located and digitally enabled; the former BHS is ideal as it’s within minutes walking distance of city centre shops, services, car parking and public transport routes.

“It’ll provide access to all and provide a range of services in a welcoming environment where people can meet and participate in social activities, learning and support groups.

“There’ll be agile accommodation for third, public and private sector companies that endorse the ethos of a community hub. Flexible, collaborative space will encourage a coordinated approach in improving the quality of people’s lives.

“By converting an existing building, we avoid the cost of putting up a new structure, reduce overheads and help revitalise the city centre that’s already undergoing a £1bn regeneration.”

A team of leading property professionals is working with the council on the project. They are experts in design, architecture, engineering, project and cost management.

Led by project and cost management specialists Coreus Group, the local services hub team includes architects Austin Smith Lord, mechanical and electrical engineers SDS, structural engineers Jubb and principal designer PHD Property Advisory.

It will secure jobs in the city centre, increase footfall for nearby businesses and give long-term use to a prominent building. It will help the city tackle the economic shock of the pandemic.

Further public consultation on the project is due to take place in the coming months.

The preparatory work will mean the temporary closure of the lane between Marks & Spencer and the former BHS and of a small number of bays in Park Street East car park. There are hundreds of parking spaces nearby – www.bit.ly/CityCentreParking

More: www.swansea.gov.uk/communityhub

Swansea Council