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  • Lawrence Bailey

City development needs a kick start

It may sound like a statement of the blindingly obvious but headlines seldom tell the whole story.

That’s true of the report that goes before Swansea planners today and which spells out the scale of city centre regeneration plans.

As I’ve written several times in this column, no-one should underestimate the challenge involved in transforming 20-something acres of prime city waterfront – or the ambition it requires.

It would be easy to attempt to manage expectations but if anything sets this scheme apart from its predecessors, it is the upfront realism that has dominated the process thus far.

Every sector, every industry, every business knows the impact of changing customer needs and expectations. What is exceptional today, becomes commonplace tomorrow and mundane the day after.

People outside the development world may not have noticed, but the planning system has changed significantly in recent years. It’s no longer a question of someone simply drawing a red line on a map and requesting outline consent.

Big money and resources therefore need to go into creating the right concept and pitching it accordingly to prospective key tenants.

I was part of the collective effort that tried – and failed – to attract sufficient development interest in the Castle Quays scheme. This was at the very height of the property boom when land was changing hands at ridiculous prices.

The local reaction towards large-scale city centre regeneration was mixed to say the least and investors picked up on that negativity.

Things are changing but it vexes me how a residual view persists that we can demand the very best without actually putting too much effort or commercial compromise into the deal.

The idea that we are some kind of Camelot sought by unquestioning developers is naive – especially when you see how successive political administrations have been unable to draw the sword from the stone.

Swansea Central is a big picture project that requires the long view. What we need now is a catalyst to start things off.

I’m hoping that complementary city centre development plans by James Morse – the guy behind the successful Oyster Wharf development – can get the green light soon.

It could make a big difference.

London Bridge hasn’t fallen

Another mindless cowardly attack on innocent people. This time it was London.

I’m sure that right-minded people must be asking themselves what these killers expect to achieve through such despicable acts.

They will not win. They will not stop us from taking back the streets tonight and every night and living our lives. Nor will they succeed in stirring up hate.

Thankfully, most of us can tell the difference between "not all Muslims are terrorists" and "not all terrorists are Muslims". We know these are the horrific actions of an evil twisted minority

The criminals who stabbed and murdered individuals in London could not distinguish whether their victims were Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindi or whatever.

The stark truth is that they didn’t care. They killed because they could and that is what condemns forever them in the face of everything decent.

We quite rightly despise them but we should not fear them. That is what they want. It must never happen.

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