What can Swansea learn from other towns and cities’ waterfront developments?
How can Swansea really connect with its waterfront? Post reporter RICHARD YOULE finds out more about the Liverpool and Cardigan experience in the second of a three-part series about Where Waters Meet, a two-day maritime festival starting in the city tomorrow.
IT has top flight football, two universities, a working port, revamped docks, a dual carriageway near its waterfront — and is "a bit of an edgy city".
Liverpool, as described by the city council's head of design and heritage Rob Burns, has similarities to Swansea.
Of course, with a population of some 460,000, two Premier League teams, a huge range of museums and galleries, and what was once arguably the second most important port in the British empire, Liverpool does things on a bigger scale than Wales's second city.
Oh, and it had a four-piece pop rock combo that sang about a yellow submarine and did rather well in the sixties.
"We have a love-hate relationship with The Beatles," admitted Mr Burns, who is giving a talk tomorrow at the two-day Maritime Heritage Wales Ltd conference in Swansea.
The urban designer has seen Liverpool city centre and its waterfront area, which is a world heritage site, change significantly. The Albert Dock was redeveloped from the 1980s onwards, incorporating Tate Liverpool and the Merseyside Maritime Museum among others, while a city centre planning blueprint in 2000 focused on re-connecting with the waterfront.
This blueprint coincided with the days of plenty, up until the economic slump eight years later. "The timing was very good," said Mr Burns.
"It is slightly different now."
He said reconnecting a town or city with its waterfront took the form of physical improvements, such as "super-crossings" (more on that later), giving docks buildings new planning uses, and changing people's perceptions about what was there. "It's about putting it on the map," said Mr Burns.
"But I don't know if I could say what works for Swansea.
"You have to have a unique selling point.
"What is it about Swansea that makes it different?
"I think the most important thing is getting visitors and then investors, who bring their own ideas.
He said the authorities in Liverpool had tried to steer clear of "gentrifying" the waterfront area.
"Liverpool is a bit of an edgy city," he said. "It has an exposed environment, open to the elements. There is that little bit of discomfort — same as any dock city.
"And that's part of its attraction."
The super-crossings are basically extra wide pedestrian crossings that allow people to walk all the way across Liverpool's "urban dual carriageway" to the waterfront area. Two are in situ and four are planned, said Mr Burns.
"It has not led to any massive traffic hold-ups," he added.