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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK
Split opinions on city makeover
Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
BBC Wales business editor

Museum exterior
300m of new money is funding developments like the museum
Members of Swansea's civic society fear the old city centre may lose out to the new waterfront development.

A promenade is planned to link the city centre and the waterfront museum opened on Monday, but critics say more needs to be done in the city centre.

Gordon Gibson, chair of the Swansea's civic society, has accused the council of being obsessed with roads and cars.

But the council denies that, saying its plans aim to get more people walking and using public transport.

Meanwhile, Chris Wilkinson, the award-winning architect of the National Waterfront Museum is upbeat about the part of the city he has been working in - the maritime quarter.

"I think a major intervention like this will give the other things that are happening there a lot more power... The environment there is superb and Swansea has huge potential."

The museum should boost Swansea by turning it into more of a destination
John Collins, Swansea business forum

The question is: can Swansea exploit this potential? Can the city, which has seen its population and manufacturing base erode since the 1980s, use the museum and other developments to turn itself around economically?

A quarter of a million visitors are projected to visit Mr Wilkinson's steel, slate and glass creation on the waterfront. It is hoped that they will make a day of it, visiting other attractions.

"The museum should boost Swansea by turning it into more of a destination," said John Collins, who is chair of the city's business forum. "And along with all the other investment, it's really making local business much more confident about the future."

Some 300m of new money is coming into Swansea, most of it from the Welsh Assembly Government, backed by European Objective One Funds.

Kingsway roundabout
A promenade will link the Kingsway with the waterfront

There are concerns in the city, however, about whether this money can be used to improve things on a broader front.

There is a feeling, for example, that waterfront development will not spill over even as far back as Swansea's city centre, which has been in real decline for two decades. Businesses have been leaving, as have shoppers who now prefer out-of-town centres.

Eileen Walton, a member of the city's civic society, said the projects on the waterfront might split the city: "We're talking about huge amounts of residential development down there. Wales' tallest tower block - 29 storeys - will just concentrate things on the front."

We need...to get a greater diversity of activities that will attract more people
Gordon Gibson, civic society

Swansea Council is building a promenade along Princess Way between the Waterfront Museum and the Kingsway roundabout, aimed at connecting the city centre to the sea.

Mr Wilkinson has also aligned the museum to encourage people to walk and get the building integrated into the maritime quarter and the city beyond.

However, Gordon Gibson, chair of Swansea's civic society, says the council is failing to regenerate the city centre because it still sees the central Kingsway roundabout as a hub for traffic rather than people.

"We need to use that area to encourage pedestrians and to get a greater diversity of activities that will attract more people. The council's obsessed with cars and roads."

Tourism hopes as new museum opens
17 Oct 05 |  South West Wales
New museum breaks with tradition
13 Oct 05 |  South West Wales

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