THE redevelopment of Swansea's Parc Tawe has been given the go-ahead by councillors — despite a warning from the firm behind the project that some of the conditions being imposed on it are unacceptable.
The scheme will see the demolition of the existing covered walkways and some of the units to open up the site, the creation of new fronts for the shops and the cinema, and new public spaces and restaurants with outdoor eating areas.
The Plantasia attraction will remain, while the larger existing shops on the site will be divided into smaller units, and a drive-thru coffee shop built in the car park.
But Swansea Council has imposed a series of some 35 conditions on the development, including one — known as condition four — which would prohibit a range of goods being sold in the new units including food and drink, clothes, toiletries, and DVDs and CDs.
The move is intended to protect existing shops in the city centre, as well as any future redevelopment of the St David's / Quadrant area — however Russell Beresford, from developers Hammerson, urged councillors at this week's planning committee not to impose the restrictions.
He said: "As a gateway to the city, Parc Tawe is in need of improvement.
"The plan is not acceptable with condition four, which would result in a loss of value."
He said Hammerson had an interest in making sure the city centre did well, and was prepared to accept other planning conditions but not condition four, adding that a revamped Parc Tawe would support some 300 full time equivalent jobs.
But councillors decided to keep the contested condition in the planning approval — and had some harsh words for Hammerson.
Ward member David Phillips sarcastically congratulated Hammerson on "getting off their backsides" and finding possible tenants for a revamped Parc Tawe but accused them of doing "sod all" for the city centre when they were responsible for it as agents.
Fellow ward member Cybil Crouch said the council had to robustly defend the interests of the city centre, and said that while the plan for Parc Tawe was "not a good design", it was unlikely Hammerson would walk away if the prohibition condition was imposed.
Castle ward member Fiona Gordon added that she though Hammerson was "bluffing" about the impact of condition four, and that the developer needed to be more creative in finding new tenants for the scheme that provided an alternative to the names already in the city.
The meeting heard that the council and Hammerson were "very far apart" on future tenants for Parc Tawe — the two sides were discussing a list of some 76 possible named retailers who would not be allowed to open on the site, and that while the developers were happy to accept a five-year ban on the brands, the council was pushing for 12 years.
Jason Evans / firstname.lastname@example.org / @EvansTheCrime