South West Wales Connected

SWANSEA STATION SHARED VISION MEETING

South West Wales Connected is hosting community vision meetings across the region, in towns and villages around railway stations, to give local people more of a voice about the challenges and opportunities as they see them. This was the first virtual meeting in Swansea and saw open community discussion exploring opportunities around Swansea railway station and High Street. 

WHAT’S HAPPENING

Swansea city centre is undergoing a major urban transformation project, with over £1 billion being invested across the city, so that Swansea can realise its potential as a vibrant regional capital where people love to live, work, visit and study.

High Street is also seeing some major investments, including new student accommodation, as well as the long-awaited and very exciting refurbishment of the Palace Theatre – an iconic building that the local authority has been able to rescue from complete decline.  Dyfatty shops at the top end of Swansea High Street are also the focus of attention as the council seeks community involvement to identify new uses for these vacant units.

Swansea Railway Station is also undergoing improvements through Transport for Wales’ Station Improvement Vision, while plans for the Swansea Bay Metro are currently out for consultation, aiming to transform the transport network in the Swansea Bay area, boosting the local economy and providing better access to job and leisure opportunities.

So it’s a great time to come together and talk about the future of the station, the high street and the local area!

EVENT AIMS

Broadly speaking, this community meeting was about three interconnected themes:

Creating a greater sense of place and pride of place

Amplifying what is distinctive, positive and strong about local areas – what do we love, what are we most proud of, what do we want to be famous for?

Improving community wellbeing

Giving local people a voice, joining the dots between good things that are happening locally, empowering people to get involved in local projects, and looking at environmental interventions, like green spaces, community gardens, encouraging active travel and engaging young people.

Improving the arrival experience for visitors

What do people see when they get off the train, and how can we make it a more positive experience?  Tackling challenges like way-finding, tourist information, highlighting local attractions and independent businesses, and ensuring connectivity with the best that the local area has to offer.

WATCH THE WHOLE CONVERSATION

WHAT WE LOVE

Despite the challenges in this part of the city centre, there is so much to be positive about – strengths and assets that we can build on as we seek to breathe life into the area.  Throughout the discussion, people shared the things they love about Swansea and the high street, including the friendliness of the community, the independent businesses, the fact that we are a small city with our own identity, the entrepreneurial and creative spirit, and the way High Street can be regarded as the closest we’ve got to “our own version of Camden town”.

People acknowleged that there is a lot of work to do to amplify “the good stuff”, given the problems of antisocial behaviour and also the challenge of recovering from COVID – but these are just some of the things people highlighted as our existing assets:

  • The variety of independent businesses
  • The High Street is the gateway to Swansea. The station is a key to getting more visitors to the city.
  • Lots of new developments – investment is happening.
  • Recent developments have enhanced the ‘city feel’ – high rise, high density.
  • The willingness and desire to create change from the community, businesses and key partners.
  • Real people, not too posh, affordable, down to earth.
  • Architecture, historic buildings, many of which are listed. Palace Theatre, Maritime Quarter, YMCA building, churches.
  • Heritage, people remember the old Swansea which such fondness.
  • Close proximity to stunning natural assets including Kilvey Hill, River Tawe, Gower and the coastline.
  • Strong creative and arts culture.
  • Pop-up galleries, exhibitions and creative events are a common occurrence in Swansea.
  • We are a City of Sanctuary (Wales’ first, UK’s second)
  • Swansea’s culture is its heart.
  • A warm welcome and hospitality from the community.

WHAT WE WANT

  • Swansea’s history needs to be more widely celebrated – Industrial revolution, Swansea was key.
  • Connectivity across the city is disjointed. Improved signposting to our coastline, local parks, places of interest.
  • Improved connection between the railway station and bus station – frequent circuit buses around the city centre? Adopt an approach similar to the Swansea Bay Rider Land Train.
  • Repurpose the High Line for increased connectivity. Could this be linked through to the Quakers burial ground?
  • Adoption of a Totally Locally style approach: Maps, guides.
  • A brighter and more welcoming station. The waiting room in the station made to feel more inviting, safer. Safer spaces for women.
  • Increased level of safety, better lighting, security around quieter areas, pedestrian tunnels, etc.
  • More green spaces, allotment spaces, green roofs, sustainable developments.
  • Spaces within and surrounding Swansea railway station used as a community hub. Spaces that could be hired for business meetings, workshops and events.
  • Areas of play – outdoor play and exercise equipment should be in the city. Existing areas of outdoor play are far from the city centre.
  • Bike hire close to the station, encouragement of active travel to move around the city.
  • More focus on pedestrian and cyclist friendly routes, encouragement of on-foot spending.
  • Direct connection down to river from the station  and establish a ‘view’ from station to coastal area.
  • Make the station and surrounding area less impersonal, welcome the involvement of local people, such as Swansea Community Workshop and other groups with creative input.
  • De-pave and get a rain garden out front of the train station.
  • Full shared surface across the whole of the junction at the station – a public square with access for buses , bikes and green.

GREEN SPACES

Green space, nature and play emerged as key themes from the discussion.  In this video, Owen Griffiths from Ways of Working presents our proposals for bringing nature to the area around High Street Station – a project that we are currently bidding for funding to deliver on behalf of the Community Rail Partnership.

 

CONTACT

To get involved with ongoing actions, please get in touch or join our Swansea Shared Vision group on Facebook. 

Everyone is welcome and everyone has a valuable contribution to make. Please email zoe@4theregion.com and jennifer@southwestwales.co for more details.

South West Wales Connected aims to facilitate community-led initiatives and provide a forum for local people to have a voice.  We want to break down silos and enable more sharing of information with and among the local community.  We will lobby on behalf of communities to make change happen, and we can’t do anything without the support and involvement of local people – so please get involved and spread the word so that together we can make positive things happen!

PARTICIPANTS

As well as local residents representing the community around Swansea station, this discussion brought together many local organisations keen to be part of changemaking initiatives.

  • Neil Barry – Swansea Community Green Spaces Project
  • Leonie Ramondt – Swansea Co Housing
  • Owen Griffiths – Artist, Ways of Working
  • Amanda Davies – Swansea Bay University Health Board 
  • Amy Beuse – Local Area Coordinator, Dyfatty
  • Claire Savage – Pattern Design, Swansea College of Art
  • Claudine Conway – Volcano Theatre
  • David Toft – Fresh Creative Co
  • Huw Williams, Andrew – Coastal Housing
  • Paul – Rail Passengers Committee
  • Jo – Mixtup
  • John Davies – BayTrans
  • John Sayce – Wheelrights 
  • Laura Gill – Glynn Vivian
  • Phillip McDonnell – Swansea Environmental Forum
  • Paul Relf – Economic Development, Swansea Council
  • Demery, Roberts – PSCO, British Transport Police
  • Rhiannon-Jayne Raftery – Community Rail Network
  • Hugh Evans, Arron Bevan-John – Transport for Wales
  • Thom Lynch – Matt’s House
  • Vikki Butler – CARP Collaborations
  • Ben Reynolds – Urban Foundry

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