Having signed a lease on a landmark sustainable café and restaurant in its new coastal park, Swansea Council has given the clearest indication yet that the vision behind its £1 billion transformation of the city is one focused on creating opportunities for local businesses and residents.
With the pandemic having emphasised the importance of mixed-use high streets, including the increased need for leisure and public spaces for the entire community to enjoy, the first phase of the Copr Bay project, driven by the Council’s vision, aims to show the way forward for town and city centres across the UK.
The leisure-led, £135 million Copr Bay Phase One is the first stage of the reimagining of the city, centred around a new 3,500-capacity arena that will be operated by Ambassador Theatre Group, the world’s leading operator of live entertainment venues. Better connecting the city to its sweeping coastline, via a 1.1-acre public park and striking new pedestrian and cycle bridge, the project will allow residents and tourists to enjoy the beach in the day before sampling Swansea’s emerging F&B scene in the evening. The transformation, once complete, will realise Swansea’s natural potential as one of the UK’s most vibrant places to live, work, study and visit.
In the latest step towards this ambition, Swansea Council has announced that local family-owned restaurant group The Secret Hospitality Group will run a day-to-night service at the 1,400 sq ft restaurant and café. An environmentally friendly and architecturally eye-catching venue, residents and visitors will enjoy a relaxed café by day and a buzzing pizzeria by night.
Cllr Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said: “This new restaurant will be a great community asset and landmark in our wonderful new Coastal Park. I’m sure that, together with the arena and other new developments, it will make Swansea even more of an attraction for our residents and the millions of tourists who visit us and our magnificent coastline every year.
“We’re immensely proud of what we’re doing to reimagine Swansea. Copr Bay Phase One is creating around 1,260 construction jobs; hundreds more long-term jobs will come when it’s operational and it will add tens of millions of pounds to the local economy every year.
“We want the new attractions that are part of Copr Bay Phase One to give a major economic boost to our city’s economy. We want to show that there’s a bright post-pandemic future for high streets across the UK – and that Swansea will emerge as a wonderful, modern, attractive, 21st Century destination.
“The council-led regeneration of Swansea is about much more than the bricks and mortar; it’s about jobs, opportunities and securing a positive future. It’s about creating a unique and memorable place to live, work and enjoy – to the benefit of the people and businesses of our city and those who plan to visit us or make Swansea their home.”
The Secret Hospitality Group’s newest restaurant is due to open towards the end of 2021 and has full capacity for some 60 covers plus outside seating. The family-run and locally-based restaurant group is owned and run by Ryan and Lucy Hole, who also own The Secret Beach Bar & Kitchen and The Optimist Bar & Kitchen, both in Swansea. The newest restaurant in the group will join the others by having its produce supplied by local businesses, further supporting the Swansea economy.
Ryan Hole said: “While it might seem an odd decision to commit to a new restaurant during the pandemic, we did not think twice when this opportunity came knocking. Swansea Council’s £1 billion transformation of the city is a vote of confidence in the future of the area and will offer opportunities to people like us and businesses like ours. Our latest restaurant will be a new landmark for Swansea, part of a brand new destination for residents and visitors to enjoy great food and drink, and just a stone’s throw away from the Arena and our stunning coastline. We’re thrilled to be a part of the transformation of our city and to play a part in it.”
Sustainability is at the heart of Swansea’s newest restaurant, which has been designed by Pinelog, a member of the Green Register, to feature materials from sustainable sources and local provenance. The design champions renewable energy to lower carbon emissions and uses solar panels to contribute to the power requirements, to minimise its environmental footprint.
Copr Bay Phase One, which is being delivered by the Council working alongside development manager RivingtonHark, the leading town and city centre regeneration specialists, has community at its heart. It has previously announced that the 33 new homes being built as part of the scheme, in an enviable location near the arena and the coastal park, will be run by Wales’ largest social housing provider, Pobl Group.
Spencer Winter, Projects Director of RivingtonHark, said: “The pandemic has shaken up our society and we now have the opportunity to decide in which order we put the pieces back together. Even before Covid, town and city centres across the UK were changing; post-pandemic, they have to. Swansea is a pioneering example of what an ambitious local authority can do when it has a vision for improving its city for its community and for those who may consider making it their home.
“Copr Bay Phase One, with its focus on the things that bring us moments of relaxation like the park to those that bring us unforgettable experiences like the arena, will show that our high streets can be reimagined and that the pieces will fit, for the benefit of everyone.”
Copr Bay heralds the city’s significant industrial heritage and world-famous coastline. It will bring together culture, entertainment and leisure, and links the city centre to the marina and the expansive sandy beach via a new statement bridge for pedestrians and cyclists, combining improved permeability with iconic design.
Copr Bay Phase Two could include additional homes, retail and offices, such as an office hub for public sector workers. This could include new office space aimed at small businesses and start-ups, particularly as incubator space catering to the needs of students looking to grow their careers in the city after graduation.