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Swansea: Office block acquisition

A FORMER department store and office block threatened with demolition has been bought by a Swansea housing association.

Coastal Housing Group wants to convert the old Ty Gwalia building into affordable flats for rent.

Over the years The Kingsway site, near the junction with Dillwyn Street, was the House of Kent department store and an Evans Rees Butter packing factory. More latterly it was a Gwalia housing association office, which closed four years ago. Staff – now part of the Pobl Group – relocated to Swansea Enterprise Park.

Coastal Housing’s executive director of operations, Serena Jones, worked in the building for Gwalia from 2008 to 2015. She said: “It will move from being a place where affordable housing was planned and applied for, to being affordable housing itself. I’m pleased that legacy will transform into new social rent homes for the local community.”

In 2021 Swansea company Estateways Plc proposed demolishing the Ty Gwalia building and asked Swansea Council’s planning department if it needed prior approval. The company said it was no longer fit for purpose and that demolition would enable the land to be redeveloped. Council officers said prior approval was required, and granted it.

There were four objections to the demolition, including from resident Adrian Graham, who said in an email to planners: “This is by far one of the nicer buildings on The Kingsway and should not be demolished. Modernising the city centre should be encouraged, but not at the expense of attractive older architecture, which is becoming less and less common in Swansea.”

Estateways then gained planning consent to use the site post-demolition as a car park for three years.

Coppergate, a new student development which includes a 14-storey tower, sits alongside Ty Gwalia, while across the road Coastal Housing has converted two floors above The Potters Wheel pub into offices. A few doors along from The Potters Wheel a £40 million office development called 71/72 The Kingsway continues to take shape.