The first phase of Swansea city centre’s regeneration has been given the go-ahead.
A 3,500-seat arena is the keystone of the £120m scheme and will sit within a “coastal park” which also includes a hotel and underground parking.
A “digital bridge” will link to the other side of Oystermouth Road where there will be a block of commercial and residential units.
Swansea council planners approved the plan on Tuesday.
Council leader Rob Stewart said the “one-of-a-kind” arena would see Swansea become a major destination for tours, acts, conferences and events.
He added: “Local residents and businesses will soon see a transformed city centre that is a truly great place to spend time, live, work and enjoy.
“Once the neighbouring phase two of Swansea Central is developed – bringing a mix of enhanced new retail, restaurants and leisure – it will represent £200m of investment.”
Mr Stewart previously admitted the authority would have to borrow money for the development but he said the project could boost the city centre economy by £40m per year and create hundreds of jobs.
The council planning committee’s lone dissenter, councillor Richard Lewis, said he felt phase one of the Swansea Central scheme would not do anything for city centre businesses.
“The city centre is dying on its feet,” he said. “The Kingsway could not be any worse off. Parking is way down on yesteryear.”
He added: “I’m not impressed. I don’t think it helps businesses in the city centre.”
Homes, offices and shops will be built on the St Davids car park site, opposite the planned arena
But his suggestion was opposed by other members who called it a “golden opportunity” and “inspirational”.
The arena will be the first development to be built with a target completion date of 2020.
The St David’s site would be finished two years later.
Another phase of the regeneration could also include a “city beach” area with aquarium and science centre on land currently occupied by the civic centre.
The whole project is expected to cost about £500m.
Mr Stewart added other parts of the city centre such as Kingsway were already being “transformed” while Castle Gardens will also be revamped.
Source: BBC News