Swansea skyline changing as arena steel structures rise

New parts of the Swansea skyline are emerging as the steel skeletons of the city’s new indoor arena and allied buildings go up.

Work on the huge steel frames of the £135m Swansea Central Phase One site began to rise on Monday.

Now, part of the arena framework is up on the former Oystermouth Road car park along with a central element of the multi-storey car park on the opposite side of the road. The latter, at 24m tall, towers over the neighbouring Quadrant multi-storey.

The steel frame work is being undertaken in innovative ways by the experts putting it up – to ensure they comply with all coronavirus guidelines.

Council leader Rob Stewart said: “It’s encouraging to see the skyline evolving.

“This shows that progress is being made with this scheme that will help transform Swansea.

“As the days and weeks go on much more steel work will go up. Something special is emerging from this key site.

“We’ve always said the arena is a key catalyst to regenerate Swansea and the region, and now – post-lockdown – it will be an even more key icon and catalyst for recovery.

“I thank the workers there – including many from South Wales and the steel frame specialists themselves – for making progress whilst working to latest guidelines. They are keeping this significant scheme safe and advancing well at this difficult time.”

The work is part of the council’s £135m Copr Bay Phase One transformation scheme which includes new parkland, homes, commercial units and almost 1,000 parking spaces. It is all due to open in the second half of next year.

Work on the arena site by main contractor Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd (BGCL) has continued during the recent period of restrictions, in line with Government and industry guidance which allows construction to continue.

Safety posters are on show around the site.

The steel frame workers themselves, a team of up to 28, travelled from away to do the work. To comply with social distancing guidelines, they travelled in pairs as is permitted under the guidance. During the work, they are living in Swansea at 14 private rented accommodation addresses in those same pairs – and they work on site in those pairs.

To further aid social distancing, they have staggered start, break and finish times. They have daily briefings about their work and coronavirus measures.

Each of these measures helps keep numbers down at any one time in any location on site.

Guidance being followed includes that from Government as well as industry bodies the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) and the British Constructional Steelwork Association (BCSA).

Tim Wood, BGCL’s project director on site, said: “It’s good to see hundreds of tons of steel going up so swiftly, efficiently and safely. The framework is a highly visible and positive step in this incredible project.

“BGCL has strong measures in place to protect its employees, clients and suppliers. Full risk assessments are carried out for those on site and actions undertaken include social distancing where safe and practical – in line with latest guidance.”

South Wales firms on site right now include Evan Pritchard groundwork specialists, Premier Groundworks Solutions, concrete specialist Thames Valley Construction, Bond Demolition, Rowecord Scaffolding, Site Electrical Services, Procomm Temporary Accommodation, Proctor Fencing, Quantum Geotechnic and Thrive Women’s Aid Cleaning Services.

Hundreds of Welsh businesses have attended meet-the-buyer events in recent months as main contractor Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd (BGCL) worked hard to embrace regional specialists.

The steel frame contract was awarded by BGCL to a Scottish based sub-contractor two months ago after a competitive tender process. Their winning bid providing the best value for the project in a judgment based on quality, timescales, experience and cost.

One of the two South Wales firms considered as part of that tender is now working with BGCL on a major project in England.

Cllr Stewart said: “The arena scheme is a transformational regeneration project that’s key to delivering a 21st Century Swansea. Once the crisis is over we will all be able to enjoy it.

“It’s good to see firms from Wales and elsewhere benefiting from the investment. I’m grateful them for their continuing efforts in Swansea.

“We are assured they are working carefully on the site, in line with Government guidance.”

The steel frame work is expected to last around three months.

Swansea Council is behind the Copr Bay Phase One, with some funding for the arena coming from the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City Deal. Some funding for the new bridge comes from the Welsh Government’s Active Travel Fund.

Latest workplace guidance includes: