More than 50 ideas to boost Newport city centre
10:47am Friday 13th December 2013 in News
THE ReNewport report makes more than 50 recommendations spanning a wide range of ideas for boosting the city centre.
One of the most eye-catching is the establishment of a so-called software university in the city to address a “critical gap” in the UK between the demand for software developers and the actual number available.
The taskforce says it is already talking to three universities about the plan, which it hopes could get off the ground from 2014.
That university would be linked to a National Centre for Cyber Security taking advantage of the expertise in the field already based around the boundaries of Newport.
ReNewport suggests that Newport could bid to be a future UK or European Culture Capital.
Part of High Street could be covered up to create a “Super High Street Arcade”, while the taskforce has backed the idea of a restaurant and café quarter in Newport.
The latter idea has been already developed in part by the city council in its own efforts to develop a café quarter with the redevelopment of Newport Market.
The taskforce suggests commissioning a study to determine work needed to open up existing river and canals so boats can travel from Newport to Caerleon or Cwmbran, while re-assessing the viability of the river to further enhance the city centre.
Efforts could be made to boost the city centre environment itself amid concerns that the city lacks open space and a children’s zone.
“The environment is seen to be unfavourable in comparison to new destinations such as Cwmbran, Cabot Circus in Bristol and Cardiff city centre,” the report says.
It also recommends that a lighting competition is established to illuminate the Transporter Bridge at the Festival of Lights.
Meanwhile, the taskforce has called for the Welsh Government to consider a pilot to extend business rate relief, focused on the digital and ICT sectors.
The taskforce recommends that the Chartist contribution to British democracy is “fully recognised and developed” – calling for the development of a museum of democracy, a multimedia public display and the creation of a major online project to raise awareness of the Chartist movement. Work should start with the city council in 2014, the taskforce says.
The report proposes the development of a Cycling Centre of Excellence to add to the academy opportunities around golf and football already in the city. The taskforce says Newport and the surrounding area attracts 300,000 visitors per year for cycling.
The taskforce recommends that the possibility of a city centre investment management company is looked at. It says that the concept – where elements of a centre are purchased and managed by a single entity – could address declining footfall.
One proposal is to create Europe’s first compound semiconductor cluster in South Wales, which would aim to create a group of specialist companies in and around the city to develop expertise and commercial opportunities.
This could include an academy potentially located in Newport city centre.
Members of the taskforce recommended the establishment of a hospitality school, located in the city centre and run by students – providing the opportunity to build connections with the industry. It is hoped it could be set up by 2015.
A number of forums are proposed – including a tech forum to bring together firms to share ideas, a forum for history, heritage, culture and sport, a retail forum and a tourism and hospitality forum.
It proposes Newport should host an annual festival around culture, music or technology, building on the success of Newport’s annual food festival, and the potential of promoting Newport venues as part of a wider city region bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
Two of the recommendations touch on the upcoming NATO summit.
The report suggests that an organising committee is set up to manage the summit by January 2014.
It also calls for a major events team to be set up to work alongside the delivery of the summit.
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