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Wales Online
Wales Online
Molly Dowrick

New images reveal future look of old BHS in Oxford Street when it becomes Swansea's central library

These striking images show what Swansea's new central library will look like as plans for the new city centre "community hub" take a big step forward. Back in March, 2021, Swansea Council confirmed it was looking to fill an empty unit in Oxford Street with a number of public services, including the city's library, West Glamorgan Archive Service, a life-long learning centre, and an employability hub.

Plans were later formally submitted for the development and initial design ideas were shared and approved. Now, Swansea Council has appointed building firm Kier Construction as the main contractor - and asked it to begin to deliver the next stage of the development.

Work building the new community hub is set to begin this autumn, with the building - which previously housed BHS and later the What! retail store - hoped to open as a community hub sometime in 2023. For more stories about news and businesses in Swansea, visit this page of our website.

Read more: A revamped play area in Mayhill, Swansea, has been covered in graffiti less than a year after it reopened

The new design images have been created by architect firm Austin-Smith:Lord Ltd. on behalf of Swansea Council to give local residents and other interested parties an insight into how the new community hub will look. Designers said the new appearance of the 1950s-era building would suit that of a public building: with "open and active" shop frontages to help maintain "vibrancy" in Oxford Street and Princess Way.

The exterior of the ground floor will feature huge windows, whilst the upper floors will have large "glazed openings" to help the building appear welcoming to visitors. Cladding will give the building a "more consistent look than at present," and translucent cladding could be backlit to further act as a beacon to visitors. You can get the biggest Swansea news stories straight to your inbox with our newsletter.

Leader of Swansea Council, Rob Stewart, said: "The transformation of this building is hugely exciting. It’s really good news that Kier Construction are on board with this project. They are one of Britain’s leading construction companies with huge experience in converting existing buildings for new uses. As part of the contract, Kier has made a commitment to support local jobs and skills by hiring staff and apprentices locally.

"Kier helped us build the Bay Field Hospital for the NHS during the pandemic against very tight deadlines and were responsible for improvements at YG Gwyr and YGG Tan-y-Lan which have been warmly welcomed by pupils and parents alike. The community hub will create a fantastic new library and local services hub in the city centre, right next to the planned new Castle Square Gardens which is currently out to consultation ahead of consideration by the planning committee.

"There will be tangible benefits for the community and the council through the relocation of the library and archive services 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 community hub will have huge windows and greenery, making the site really inviting and welcoming (Swansea City Council)

With public services being located in the city centre, it's thought they will be more accessible for members of the public, and should draw people into the city centre and its shops and other businesses.

"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," Cllr Rob Stewart said. "Between them, the current Central Library and archive services [currently at Swansea Civic Centre] get around 300,000 visitors a year – that’s a lot of extra footfall that will boost city centre shopping and jobs on top of the benefits of the arena and Castle Square, which is subject to planning approval."

Discussing plans for construction work, regional director for Kier Construction, Jason Taylor said: "We are thrilled to be working with Swansea Council on another project that will support the local community. We will soon be commencing the enabling works for the new Swansea Community Hub scheme, which is located in the city centre and will provide important facilities for local people.

"Throughout the construction works, we’ll work closely with residents, local organisations and schools to provide jobs, training and work experience opportunities as well as work with our local supply chain to deliver this important project."

Regional director at Coreus construction consultancy, James Colthard added: "As the lead consultant on this hugely important regeneration project, Coreus is extremely excited to be moving into the next phase of design following an extensive tender period. Congratulations to Kier, who we look forward to collaborating closely with to deliver a scheme that will not only revitalise Swansea’s city centre, but also paves the way for further growth and investment in the region."


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