Row over £10m urban park plan on Swansea's Kingsway

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Kingsway planImage source, Swansea council

A row has broken out over £10m plans to turn half of a key Swansea city centre street into an urban park.

The idea is for the bus lanes on Kingsway to be opened up to all traffic while the other carriageway would become large grassed areas with cycle paths.

Chris Holley, leader of the opposition at Swansea council, said the idea was "fraught with problems".

But businesses in the area have given the plans their backing.

"The plan is something different and there's nothing wrong with that, but I don't think there's been enough thought about it," Mr Holley said.

"I have serious concerns about it given the amount of traffic which is coming into the city centre.

"The idea of having a single carriageway on that road is something which is fraught with problems.

"It's not going to be some form of Central Park. The time has come for businesses in the city centre to say what they want."

The last time Kingsway was revamped was in 2009 when the controversial bendy bus was launched in the city, a move, businesses claimed, caused a drop in trade.

The changes led to one-way traffic in one direction and two-way in the other direction.

Image caption,
Kingsway has many empty shops and business have blamed changes to the road for it

That system was scrapped in 2015 following two deaths and a number of injuries, while the bendy bus was also replaced with smaller, more economical buses.

Julie Williamson, chairwoman of Swansea's Federation of Small Businesses, said the new plans were "looking outside of the box" and she was happy people are being consulted.

She added: "It's better than it is at the moment which is disastrous. Going back 10 years, nothing could have prepared us for the awful situation then.

"In speaking to other business people, I think the majority of the plans for the city that are being suggested now really make sense.

"As long as enough thought has gone into the plans and it's safe, it will be accepted happily."

'Simplifying the network'

And Russell Greenslade, chief executive of Swansea Business District, welcomed any move to bring more people into the city adding: "The sooner we can get cranes into the air, the better."

Council leader Rob Stewart is spearheading the plans.

He said: "The bendy bus works left a complicated, frustrating traffic system in Swansea which damaged businesses and deterred investment. We are changing that this year.

"As part of the redevelopment of our city we will be simplifying the road network, opening up routes to shorten journey times and making it easier for people to get to where they need to go."

A consultation on the Kingsway plans runs until 10 March.