NEXT and Topshop are the latest big names to sign up to Newport city centre’s Friars Walk development.

Developers, Queensberry Real Estate, said Next and Top Shop have exchanged contracts on 20,000 sq ft and 10,000 sq ft units respectively.

This means both retailers will be returning to the city after closing their stores in the last two years. They join Debenhams and Cineworld who have also already committed to Friars Walk, signing up to 91,000 sq ft and 25,000 sq ft respectively.

Queensberry confirmed that five of the ten restaurants are now under offer and three other major fashion retailers are in advanced discussion to take space.

Lord Wolfson, chief executive of Next, said: “It is both rare and refreshing to see such well thought through and ambitious regeneration plans which span commercial, residential, retail, leisure and educational developments.”

Queensberry Real Estate was chosen by Newport council to rejuvenate the heart of Newport.

Friar’s Walk will bring more than 390,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space and is expected to create more than 1,100 jobs.

It will include 35 retail units, ten restaurants, 360 parking spaces and a new bus station and interchange. Construction is due to start early next year and it is expected to open in March 2016.

Stuart Harris, head of leasing at Queensberry, said: “Both Next and Topshop have recognised the huge potential of a rejuvenated Newport, momentum is really beginning to build now as confidence in Friar’s Walk and Newport grows both regionally and nationally.

“The city council has a clear vision for the city which is based around long-term investment in public realm, new residential, leisure and office schemes all of which are fundamental to a vibrant successful city of the future.

Council leader Bob Bright said: "This is excellent and welcome news and signals the return of a popular, big name shops to the city centre. It shows that there is still considerable confidence in the future of our city centre.

“We are working closely with our development partners and preparatory work for Friars Walk is still expected to begin this year. We can look forward to the vision finally becoming a reality and this vibrant new shopping and leisure scheme will breathe new life into the city centre."

* See Business Update for an interview with Paul Sargent, partner with Queensberry Real Estate, about Friars Walk and Newport.