Dragons' Den style consultation held on Newport regeneration
LASERS on the Transporter bridge, a barrage across the Usk and an official change of name from Newport to Casnewydd were among the big ideas presented to a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style task force yesterday.
The ReNewport project, created by the Welsh Government and the City Council, aims to re-energise the city centre and redevelop dilapidated areas of the city.
Newport residents presented their ideas to a panel of six headed by Simon Gibson at the event, held at the University of South Wales.
Ideas ranged from the immediately achievable, such as farmers’ markets and vintage markets, to the blue-sky, such as a retractable glass roof over Commercial Street and the rest of the city centre to allow all-weather shopping, as has been achieved in Salt Lake City.
The panel sat for the whole day, listening to 23 people present their ideas. Simon Gibson led the discussion, with David Warrender, Ben Milsom, Peter Evans, Simon Powell and Mark Barry also on the panel.
Don Parker suggested the name Newport be swapped with its Welsh alternative, Casnewydd, giving the city a more distinctive identity.
He said: “I counted, according to Wikipedia, 44 Newports not including parliamentary constituencies or Newports with a suffix such as Newport-Corner.
“There’s only one Casnewydd that is a city. It’s unique.”
He pointed to cities including as Bombay, which changed its name to Mumbai, stating there was a precedent for the move and added: “A unique name to Google has 21st century currency”.
Peter Evans, on the panel, said changing the name could bring a lot of publicity to the city which could be helpful when combined with other regeneration measures.
Twitter reaction to the suggestion was mixed, with many defensive of the name Newport.
The first person to present, Nick Webb, chairman of Newport Civic Society, suggested Newport could become a centre for minority sport, such as volleyball or handball, harnessing the velodrome.
Many people highlighted the problems with parking in the city centre and said they would like to see more green spaces while the lack of footfall in the high street is a lament familiar to any Newport resident.
At least three people suggested building on the city’s maritime history while the idea of a barrage across the Usk, creating a permanent high water level, was another popular idea.
There was some hesitation about the proposed Friar’s Walk shopping development with several people saying they would prefer to see the arcades thriving again with more independent shops.
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