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15 April 2021 | Comment | Article by Richard Macphail

Hugh James advises on pioneering regeneration development hailed as UK first

Biophilic Living Swansea Ariel Shot

Image: Hacer Developments

Top 100 UK law firm, Hugh James, has provided legal advice on an innovative mixed-use regeneration development in the heart of Swansea city centre, which has been hailed as a first for the UK.

Lawyers from the Hugh James Social Housing, Commercial Property and Construction and Energy Projects teams supported Wales’ largest provider of affordable homes, Pobl Group, in its role as residential partner for the ambitious ‘Biophilic Swansea’ scheme.

The innovative project will transform the site of the former Woolworth store on Oxford Street in Swansea, providing affordable new homes and workspace alongside a community urban farm. It follows extensive collaborative working among a range of local organisations, including Swansea University, the Active Building Centre, Public Health Wales, and local community groups.

Night shot of Biophilic Living Swansea

Image: Hacer Developments

Funding for the scheme, which is being delivered by Hacer developments, has been awarded through the Welsh Government Innovative Housing Programme. It will enable Biophilic Swansea to incorporate innovative technologies and community features, to explore a new way of inner-city housing in Wales.

Led by Partner and Head of the Social Housing team, Richard Macphail, working alongside Matthew Stevens, Hugh James advised Pobl on the property and construction aspects of the project which will result in Pobl taking a long lease of the residential apartments within the building, once completed.

Commenting on the scheme, Richard Macphail said today:

“The Biophilic model will transform how people live and work in the heart of Swansea. At Hugh James, we love to play our part in trailblazing projects to build resilient futures. It has been rewarding to support the Pobl Group and navigate the legal complexities around this innovative project and enable this impressive scheme to move forward.”

Biophilic Swansea will feature two south-facing greenhouses at roof level, the largest of which will be serviced by an aquaponics system designed to produce up to 4.5 tonnes of fruits, vegetables, salads, and herbs per year.

The aquaponics system will create a continuous cycle where waste produced by fish, living in onsite tanks, adds nutrients to the water which feeds the greenhouse plants. The water is then filtered and recirculated back into the system.

Biophilic Swansea’s aquaponic fish tanks and associated equipment will be developed in partnership with Swansea University’s Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research (CSAR) and will form part of an education and public display on the ground floor of the tower.

The vision for Biophilic Swansea includes residents running and managing the urban farm as a social enterprise. This is founded on research demonstrating that reconnecting with nature is essential to our well-being, and that there are positive community and health outcomes from growing food and living more closely with the natural world.

To find out more about our social housing team and the other projects they’ve advised on, visit our dedicated page.

Visit our social housing page

Author bio

Richard is a Partner in our Commercial Property team based in London. Richard has a broad general commercial property experience including advising on landlord and tenant matters, acquisitions and disposals, estate management work and secured lending on behalf of lenders. Richard also specialises in acting for both landowners and mineral and aggregates operating companies on the management and extraction of mineral deposits.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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