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Key step taken for city centre local services hub

Proposals for a new central Swansea location for the city's main library and other key services took a big step forward today.

BHS planned design

BHS planned design

The plans, for Oxford Street's former BHS/What! building were given the go-ahead by planners.

Work can now start in earnest to convert the building to offer people convenient access to key services from across the council and other orgainsations.

Council leader Rob Stewart said: "The transformation of this building is hugely exciting.

"It will create a fantastic new library and local services hub in the city centre, right next to the new Castle Square Gardens. 

"There will be tangible benefits for the community and the council through the relocation of the library as well as a number of other key public and third party support services into a single building with an open and welcoming environment.

"The project will be a fine example of sustainable city centre redevelopment, reinvigorating existing buildings, and reducing carbon use in the fight against climate change."

Designsby architects Austin-Smith:Lord Ltd  - on behalf of Swansea Council - reveal a new look for the former BHS/What! building.

Designers say the appearance of the structure - built in the 1950s - will have impact appropriate to a public building, with open and active shop frontages to maintain vibrancy to Oxford St and Princess Way.

The ground floor exterior is largely windows and that upper floors feature large glazed openings to show activity and a welcoming ethos.

Cladding will give the building a more consistent look than at present. Translucent cladding could be backlit to act as a beacon to help attract visitors.

There will be a green wall and planting on a roof area.

Inside, the library will act as a "spine" and there'll be a feature grand central staircase.

Contractors began preparatory work on site in October - and the building could open in its new guise next year.

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.

The hub, along with other city centre work hubs, is designed by the council to protect or create jobs and increase footfall in the city centre over the coming years. It will be visited by thousands of people every week.

The over-arching vision for the hub project is to:

  • create an innovative, flexible and sustainable community hub promoting community cohesion, opportunities for self-development and growth, support digital inclusion, improve well-being and unite and strengthen the city's diverse community;
  • achieve 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;
  • encourage a coordinated approach in supporting the community in finding and delivering solutions to improve quality of life.

The public have been consulted on the project.

Image: How Swansea's new city centre community hub could look. Pic: Austin-Smith:Lord Ltd

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