Newport taskforce to look at city centre homes plans
A TASKFORCE to look at whether housing could regenerate the city centre was welcomed by traders and traders’ groups yesterday.
The Welsh Government has started work with Newport council on a business development project that will examine what barriers there are to firms growing in the district.
Alan Edwards, president of Newport Chamber of Trade, said he broadly welcomed the project, and said it wouldn’t go amiss if someone involved with the proposed Business Improvement District was involved.
He said: “I spent the first 21 years of my life living above the fish shop.
“There used to be a big community, living over pubs and flats over commercial enterprises. “ He said all businesses want to improve footfall: “Until we have an attractive shopping centre we can try everything. Wewill have difficulty attracting the numbers needed.”
Jon Powell, whose kiosk business was recently moved to the end of Bridge Street, said the idea seemed like a good one.
“I think its good they finally recognise that we have a problem here and they are going to get some resources to fix it,” he said.
Paul Halliday, chairman of Newport Independent Traders, said he was glad the group is being established.
But he added: “I’ve a number of concerns – we have had Newport Unlimited for a number of years now.
“It’s going to be at least six months before they take any decisions.”
He also raised concerns about housing in the city centre: “There’s nowhere for them to park. People are afraid to walk into the city at night at the moment.”
Darran Ward, owner of Freestyle skate shop in the Arcade, said the idea of housing in the city centre was interesting.
“If there were a few more people floating around there would be more incentive to fill the shops,” he said.
He said business rates were an issue for city centre firms, while the exodus of major chains has not helped.
“That’s been the massive thing. People are saying what’s the point in coming into town?”
The Welsh Government said it would like senior individuals from the public sector to join the steering group to guide the project’s work.