SOME of the 6,000 tonnes of steel frame that will form part of the Friars Walk have arrived on site, with building of the structure set to begin soon.

The Argus was yesterday given an update on the Friars Walk project following a Newport council cabinet visit to developer Queensberry’s offices at Chartist Tower.

Martin Tresidder, senior development manager for project developers Queensberry, told the Argus that piling has been taking place on site for the last couple of weeks.

Some 150 tonnes of steel have now arrived at the site with 6,000 tonnes in the whole scheme.

"In the next few weeks you will start to see the structure," he said.

Mr Tresidder said the old Iceland building is also now demolished.

Newport council is providing up to £90 million of loans to the project, money that the authority it itself plans to itself borrow.

Labour council leader Councillor Bob Bright told a public meeting of cabinet in the civic centre yesterday: "We will be able to increase the specification slightly of the city centre development itself."

"It’s important that we get the best result that we can in aesthetics and from a planning point of view.

It is our aim to increase that specification and make the experience as pleasant as possible," added Cllr Bright.

A senior council source said the details of that are not yet fully confirmed and subject to a planning application yet to go in.

It is thought that the application will go before the planning committee, rather than be decided by officers.

Talking about some of the changes, Mr Tresidder said that stone work was being put in instead of tiles over some of the shops, and that ETFE plastic pillow-style roofing will be used.

The material is similar to that used over Newport Railway Station and is probably best known for its use at the Eden project in Cornwall.

Mr Tresidder said materials are always chosen in conjunction with planning officers: "That’s what we are currently doing."

Yesterday’s cabinet meeting also saw plans for a £1.7 million reserve for Friars Walk, in case the scheme has any financial impact on the council, given the nod.