LONG-AWAITED plans to revamp Swansea’s Castle Square have been given the go-ahead, and developers will be able to tender for the project shortly.
Council planning officers have approved a scheme to add more more trees, lawns and other greenery, and create two pavilion buildings for food, drink or retail businesses.
There will also be a new water feature, seating areas and a large television above a bandstand-style facility.
The council is funding the Castle Square Gardens project but will earn revenue from it. Speaking at a council scrutiny meeting, Huw Mowbray, Swansea’s development and regeneration strategic manager, said the new-look square will have four commercial units for rent.
He added: “The tender process is about to start.”
The square used to be mainly lawns and flower beds before the current stone square – although there are raised areas of grass – replaced it.
In 2016 council leader Rob Stewart described it as “tired”, and cabinet went on to consider and then agree redevelopment opportunities the following year, with the cost estimated at that stage £7 million to £8 million.
One pandemic and a couple of consultations and redesigns later, the planning consent and forthcoming tendering process moves the project closer to delivery.
More than 230 people and groups completed questionnaires about the square proposals in 2021. A large majority agreed strongly with the re-greening concept, and there was also support for small cafes and restaurants.
One questionnaire respondent said: “I really like this idea. Most European cities in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany have squares like these. Provides a purpose for the area, which is good.”
Some concerns were raised, though, about potential littering and vandalism of the planned water jet feature.
There was strong consensus that the current square was beyond its sell-by date. One person said it resembled a “concrete cave” for a small minority “to meet, fight, sleep and urinate”.
Cllr Stewart said the planning approval was great news, and thanked the public and businesses for their views.
The overhaul is likely get under way this year and take around a year to complete.
“Castle Square Gardens is a focal point within the city centre, an important civic place,” said the Swansea Labour leader.
“We’ll now enhance it, raise its quality and make it more active, distinctive and vibrant in line with other investment in the city.
“It’ll be a modern, functional and well maintained public space which can accommodate a range of events, arts and cultural experiences.”