EDITORIAL COMMENT: Friars Walk effort not all wasted

South Wales Argus: EDITORIAL COMMENT: Friars Walk effort not all wasted EDITORIAL COMMENT: Friars Walk effort not all wasted

IT gives us no great pleasure to report today on the decision by Newport City Council to ditch developer Modus Corovest and its plans to build the Friars Walk shopping centre.

It has become increasingly clear in recent months that first Modus, then its sister company Corovest, could not raise the cash from the banking fraternity to push ahead with its plans to build an impressive new retail centre in the middle of Newport.

We have all been alarmed at the company's difficulty in raising finance, which, combined with stories of Modus hitting problems with its developments in other parts of the country made the Newport scheme look increasingly fragile.

This newspaper has been a keen supporter of the proposals to give our city a modern, state-of-the-art shopping centre.

We were buoyed by the fact that 75 per cent of the retail space in the planned centre was already let to heavyweight high street stores with both Debenhams and Marks and Spencer agreeing to take the anchor positions at each end of the development.

But the credit crunch came along at exactly the wrong time for Newport.

Planning consents and compulsory purchases were in place and work was due to start on building the centre in 2007, with the hope that it would be completed by the Ryder Cup deadline of September 2010. Then we heard that first one bank, then another, had gone back on its promises to provide the up-front finance for the scheme.

Sadly, once the downward spiral began it appears there was no hope of retrieval. So 18 months, at least, has been wasted and the city council has understandably lost patience with Modus Corovest after it became patently obvious that it could not deliver the promised scheme.

Newport Unlimited, the urban regeneration company that facilitated this development, has been powerless to influence the banks and make the scheme happen.

The people of Newport will not be slow to blame both the council and Newport Unlimited, but we believe that little more could have been done to force the banks to lend the money to Modus once the credit crunch took hold.

If events had happened two years earlier we honestly believe the shopping centre would now be built.

Nevertheless the city HAS to move forward and a lot of the work that has been done on planning approvals and new infrastructure will not be wasted, provided a new developer can be found. Major retailers are willing to come to Newport, so long as they have a decent centre to operate in.

It is now vital that the city council finds a company that can not only invest in Newport but can also provide the level of quality that both its citizens and the major stores will be happy with.

Comments (22)

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3:18pm Wed 10 Jun 09

Brighton_1975 says...

So, what's going to happen to the existing site? Surely no-one in their right mind can consider this to be anything but a 1970's eyesore?

My advice is to knock it all down, create a public space that's in keeping with this century and put every effort into letting units in the Kingsway Centre, which is practically barren at the moment.

Oh, and strip Newport of its city status as it's just making the place look like an even bigger joke.
So, what's going to happen to the existing site? Surely no-one in their right mind can consider this to be anything but a 1970's eyesore? My advice is to knock it all down, create a public space that's in keeping with this century and put every effort into letting units in the Kingsway Centre, which is practically barren at the moment. Oh, and strip Newport of its city status as it's just making the place look like an even bigger joke. Brighton_1975
  • Score: 0

3:27pm Wed 10 Jun 09

Owain Vaughan says...

Er, they *were* planning to knock it down. The next scheme to come along will knock it down. I don't really understand the point in your question.

Oh and at least Newport has city status on its own merit - it didn't have to borrow Hove.
Er, they *were* planning to knock it down. The next scheme to come along will knock it down. I don't really understand the point in your question. Oh and at least Newport has city status on its own merit - it didn't have to borrow Hove. Owain Vaughan
  • Score: 0

3:28pm Wed 10 Jun 09

DEBS1 says...

Brighton_1975 wrote:
So, what's going to happen to the existing site? Surely no-one in their right mind can consider this to be anything but a 1970's eyesore? My advice is to knock it all down, create a public space that's in keeping with this century and put every effort into letting units in the Kingsway Centre, which is practically barren at the moment. Oh, and strip Newport of its city status as it's just making the place look like an even bigger joke.
I totaly agree put us back to NEWPORT TOWN
[quote][p][bold]Brighton_1975[/bold] wrote: So, what's going to happen to the existing site? Surely no-one in their right mind can consider this to be anything but a 1970's eyesore? My advice is to knock it all down, create a public space that's in keeping with this century and put every effort into letting units in the Kingsway Centre, which is practically barren at the moment. Oh, and strip Newport of its city status as it's just making the place look like an even bigger joke.[/p][/quote]I totaly agree put us back to NEWPORT TOWN DEBS1
  • Score: 0

3:51pm Wed 10 Jun 09

Roger Stone says...

I'm afraid the only way to lose city status seems to be to lead a rebellion against the Crown (Leicester and Simon de Montfort, for example). Anyone up for a second Chartist Rising? Mind you, overthrow of the current Parliament probably runs a greater chance of succeeding!
I'm afraid the only way to lose city status seems to be to lead a rebellion against the Crown (Leicester and Simon de Montfort, for example). Anyone up for a second Chartist Rising? Mind you, overthrow of the current Parliament probably runs a greater chance of succeeding! Roger Stone
  • Score: 0

4:15pm Wed 10 Jun 09

Owain Vaughan says...

Rochester lost it because of an administrative ****-up. But the point here is that it gives something to live up to. Lose that status and then so what if the place falls apart? Use your heads!
Rochester lost it because of an administrative ****-up. But the point here is that it gives something to live up to. Lose that status and then so what if the place falls apart? Use your heads! Owain Vaughan
  • Score: 0

4:28pm Wed 10 Jun 09

Brighton_1975 says...

Owain Vaughan wrote:
Er, they *were* planning to knock it down. The next scheme to come along will knock it down. I don't really understand the point in your question.

Oh and at least Newport has city status on its own merit - it didn't have to borrow Hove.
Yes, but at least Brighton has fantastic shops, culture, fantastic nightlife, cosmopolitan bars and cafés, shops that open, not close down, on a weekly basis…
[quote][p][bold]Owain Vaughan[/bold] wrote: Er, they *were* planning to knock it down. The next scheme to come along will knock it down. I don't really understand the point in your question. Oh and at least Newport has city status on its own merit - it didn't have to borrow Hove.[/p][/quote]Yes, but at least Brighton has fantastic shops, culture, fantastic nightlife, cosmopolitan bars and cafés, shops that open, not close down, on a weekly basis… Brighton_1975
  • Score: 0

4:29pm Wed 10 Jun 09

Dave on his Soapbox says...

And the Board of Newport Unlimited are...
Grant Watson
Chairman
Alder King

Councillor Matthew Evans
Leader Newport City Council

Chris Freegard
Managing Director
Newport City Council

John Burrows
Chief Executive
Newport Unlimited

Councillor Ed Townsend
Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration

Eleanor Marks
Regional Director - South East Wales
Welsh Assembly Government, Department for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks

James Price
Director of Transport and Station Regeneration
Welsh Assembly Government

Pat Lewis
Director of Strategic Regeneration of Heads of the Valleys
Welsh Assembly Government

Gerry Keighley
Editor
South Wales Argus

David Bowler
Managing Director
VINCI Investments

Simon Gibson
Chief Executive
Wesley Clover

James Norvill
Managing Director
GD Environmental Services

Mabs Noor
Business Development Consultant

Dennis Roberts
Director
Office of National Statistics

....where are the members of the general public???
And the Board of Newport Unlimited are... Grant Watson Chairman Alder King Councillor Matthew Evans Leader Newport City Council Chris Freegard Managing Director Newport City Council John Burrows Chief Executive Newport Unlimited Councillor Ed Townsend Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration Eleanor Marks Regional Director - South East Wales Welsh Assembly Government, Department for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks James Price Director of Transport and Station Regeneration Welsh Assembly Government Pat Lewis Director of Strategic Regeneration of Heads of the Valleys Welsh Assembly Government Gerry Keighley Editor South Wales Argus David Bowler Managing Director VINCI Investments Simon Gibson Chief Executive Wesley Clover James Norvill Managing Director GD Environmental Services Mabs Noor Business Development Consultant Dennis Roberts Director Office of National Statistics ....where are the members of the general public??? Dave on his Soapbox
  • Score: 0

4:32pm Wed 10 Jun 09

Dave on his Soapbox says...

...and now there'll be a possible site for the preplacemnt to the Royal Gwent hospital or for greater expansion of the uni campus....or even let Sainsburys move here instead of crindau.
...and now there'll be a possible site for the preplacemnt to the Royal Gwent hospital or for greater expansion of the uni campus....or even let Sainsburys move here instead of crindau. Dave on his Soapbox
  • Score: 0

5:31pm Wed 10 Jun 09

Spark says...

Brighton_1975 wrote:
Owain Vaughan wrote: Er, they *were* planning to knock it down. The next scheme to come along will knock it down. I don't really understand the point in your question. Oh and at least Newport has city status on its own merit - it didn't have to borrow Hove.
Yes, but at least Brighton has fantastic shops, culture, fantastic nightlife, cosmopolitan bars and cafés, shops that open, not close down, on a weekly basis…
Oh yeah, well Newps got Poundland, so there!
[quote][p][bold]Brighton_1975[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Owain Vaughan[/bold] wrote: Er, they *were* planning to knock it down. The next scheme to come along will knock it down. I don't really understand the point in your question. Oh and at least Newport has city status on its own merit - it didn't have to borrow Hove.[/p][/quote]Yes, but at least Brighton has fantastic shops, culture, fantastic nightlife, cosmopolitan bars and cafés, shops that open, not close down, on a weekly basis…[/p][/quote]Oh yeah, well Newps got Poundland, so there! Spark
  • Score: 0

6:31pm Wed 10 Jun 09

Bobevans says...

I am still waiting for an answer from Newport Council as to exactly why we are paying Newport Unlimited £1 Milion a year to do nothing.

Pretty much every pproject is binned so its time they binned Newport Unlimited


Its OUR money that paying them. Not the Councils.

Then they might loose their Non exec fees though.
I am still waiting for an answer from Newport Council as to exactly why we are paying Newport Unlimited £1 Milion a year to do nothing. Pretty much every pproject is binned so its time they binned Newport Unlimited Its OUR money that paying them. Not the Councils. Then they might loose their Non exec fees though. Bobevans
  • Score: 0

6:37pm Wed 10 Jun 09

The Rabbit says...

Well well so the council have finally heard what we all have been saying for the last few months and finally realised that this development is not going to happen until well after the Golf has been and gone.

If we all knew this why didn’t our councillors?? Perhaps I should be a councillor. I couldn’t do any worse than them.

How does one become a councillor I wonder?

Why are there no members of the public on board of Newport unlimited?

Nobody with any common sense is allowed so it seems. Our job is just to pay for it all. What do the public know anyway.

Well well so the council have finally heard what we all have been saying for the last few months and finally realised that this development is not going to happen until well after the Golf has been and gone. If we all knew this why didn’t our councillors?? Perhaps I should be a councillor. I couldn’t do any worse than them. How does one become a councillor I wonder? Why are there no members of the public on board of Newport unlimited? Nobody with any common sense is allowed so it seems. Our job is just to pay for it all. What do the public know anyway. The Rabbit
  • Score: 0

7:28pm Wed 10 Jun 09

KazB says...

The Rabbit wrote:
Well well so the council have finally heard what we all have been saying for the last few months and finally realised that this development is not going to happen until well after the Golf has been and gone. If we all knew this why didn’t our councillors?? Perhaps I should be a councillor. I couldn’t do any worse than them. How does one become a councillor I wonder? Why are there no members of the public on board of Newport unlimited? Nobody with any common sense is allowed so it seems. Our job is just to pay for it all. What do the public know anyway.
Go to www.newport.gov.uk and using the search box type 'how do I become a councillor'
[quote][p][bold]The Rabbit[/bold] wrote: Well well so the council have finally heard what we all have been saying for the last few months and finally realised that this development is not going to happen until well after the Golf has been and gone. If we all knew this why didn’t our councillors?? Perhaps I should be a councillor. I couldn’t do any worse than them. How does one become a councillor I wonder? Why are there no members of the public on board of Newport unlimited? Nobody with any common sense is allowed so it seems. Our job is just to pay for it all. What do the public know anyway. [/p][/quote]Go to www.newport.gov.uk and using the search box type 'how do I become a councillor' KazB
  • Score: 0

7:49pm Wed 10 Jun 09

David Hewett says...

Newport City Centre regeneration fail All the posters - Plans- pretty pictures and videos and what do we get - NOTHING - But Newport City council will tidy up the route from the M4 to the Celtic Manor - anyone starting to get a little **** off with the golf?
Newport City Centre regeneration fail All the posters - Plans- pretty pictures and videos and what do we get - NOTHING - But Newport City council will tidy up the route from the M4 to the Celtic Manor - anyone starting to get a little **** off with the golf? David Hewett
  • Score: 0

8:07pm Wed 10 Jun 09

Ger from the Gaer says...

The editorial reads thus:

If events had happened two years earlier we honestly believe the shopping centre would now be built.

So why wasn't it started two years ago like it was meant to? Because they were too busy mucking about with the traffic system and building a footbridge that hardly anyone uses to nowhere. This was an important part of the regeneration jigsaw - it should have been in place first.
The editorial reads thus: If events had happened two years earlier we honestly believe the shopping centre would now be built. So why wasn't it started two years ago like it was meant to? Because they were too busy mucking about with the traffic system and building a footbridge that hardly anyone uses to nowhere. This was an important part of the regeneration jigsaw - it should have been in place first. Ger from the Gaer
  • Score: 0

8:11pm Wed 10 Jun 09

OutintheWetlands says...

Newport will now be classed as a worldwide failure. Newport deserves to be embarrassed in front of the billions watching the Ryder Cup. Now I know that the Argus editor is on the board I will never buy the paper again. I urge everyone else to BOYCOTT THE ARGUS. Thankfully this will be my last ever post here.
Newport will now be classed as a worldwide failure. Newport deserves to be embarrassed in front of the billions watching the Ryder Cup. Now I know that the Argus editor is on the board I will never buy the paper again. I urge everyone else to BOYCOTT THE ARGUS. Thankfully this will be my last ever post here. OutintheWetlands
  • Score: 0

9:21pm Wed 10 Jun 09

Brighton_1975 says...

I assume they'll be taking down those hilarious 'Proud of Newport' banners that are fluttering around the city, rubbing the salt into everyone's wounds. Talk about kicking people when they're down.

The only way the people can get their revenge is to expose the council and Newport Unlimited in front of the world's media when the Ryder Cup rolls into town.

This could be through protests, boycotting the entrance to the Celtic Manor, handing out leaflets to the tourists that will explain the years upon years of failed promises etc. At least it will show the visitors that the people of Newport deserve better than what they've got and that Newportonians are decent folk (which the majority are).
I assume they'll be taking down those hilarious 'Proud of Newport' banners that are fluttering around the city, rubbing the salt into everyone's wounds. Talk about kicking people when they're down. The only way the people can get their revenge is to expose the council and Newport Unlimited in front of the world's media when the Ryder Cup rolls into town. This could be through protests, boycotting the entrance to the Celtic Manor, handing out leaflets to the tourists that will explain the years upon years of failed promises etc. At least it will show the visitors that the people of Newport deserve better than what they've got and that Newportonians are decent folk (which the majority are). Brighton_1975
  • Score: 0

10:17pm Wed 10 Jun 09

The Abrogator says...

Tomrrow's Argus front page:

EPIC
FAIL
Tomrrow's Argus front page: EPIC FAIL The Abrogator
  • Score: 0

1:55am Thu 11 Jun 09

Orson Cart says...

OutintheWetlands wrote:
Thankfully this will be my last ever post here.

I'M SO GLAD ARGUS READERS HAVE THAT PROMISE IN WRITING.

OutintheWetlands wrote: Thankfully this will be my last ever post here. I'M SO GLAD ARGUS READERS HAVE THAT PROMISE IN WRITING. Orson Cart
  • Score: 0

7:48am Thu 11 Jun 09

bobmech1 says...

Whats the point in criticising the people posting, it's not there fault that the main organisations couldn't get there act together. You can't blame the credit crunch as the building should have started two years before the crunch began.
However it dosn't change the fact that Newport will be a major disapointment to the visitors for the Ryder cup. The citys facillities are abysmal compared to previous places that the cup has been run. Not enough eating places, accommodation and other basic facilities. I can understand why its being marketed as Cardiff as at least they have something to be proud of.
Whats the point in criticising the people posting, it's not there fault that the main organisations couldn't get there act together. You can't blame the credit crunch as the building should have started two years before the crunch began. However it dosn't change the fact that Newport will be a major disapointment to the visitors for the Ryder cup. The citys facillities are abysmal compared to previous places that the cup has been run. Not enough eating places, accommodation and other basic facilities. I can understand why its being marketed as Cardiff as at least they have something to be proud of. bobmech1
  • Score: 0

8:34am Thu 11 Jun 09

Ger from the Gaer says...

OutintheWetlands wrote:
Newport will now be classed as a worldwide failure. Newport deserves to be embarrassed in front of the billions watching the Ryder Cup. Now I know that the Argus editor is on the board I will never buy the paper again. I urge everyone else to BOYCOTT THE ARGUS. Thankfully this will be my last ever post here.
Didn't you know he was on the board then? Well, I only discovered that recently but it's no surprise. The Argus isn't really a newspaper these days - it's a newsletter. Gone are the days when it would have asked searching questions about fiascoes like this and demanded some answers. It's no longer independent and the fact that the editor sits on the board of the entity partly responsible for this mess his impartiality is seriously compromised. As I said, the Argus is just the messenger - and you should never shoot the messenger!
[quote][p][bold]OutintheWetlands[/bold] wrote: Newport will now be classed as a worldwide failure. Newport deserves to be embarrassed in front of the billions watching the Ryder Cup. Now I know that the Argus editor is on the board I will never buy the paper again. I urge everyone else to BOYCOTT THE ARGUS. Thankfully this will be my last ever post here.[/p][/quote]Didn't you know he was on the board then? Well, I only discovered that recently but it's no surprise. The Argus isn't really a newspaper these days - it's a newsletter. Gone are the days when it would have asked searching questions about fiascoes like this and demanded some answers. It's no longer independent and the fact that the editor sits on the board of the entity partly responsible for this mess his impartiality is seriously compromised. As I said, the Argus is just the messenger - and you should never shoot the messenger! Ger from the Gaer
  • Score: 0

6:58pm Thu 11 Jun 09

Bobevans says...

The project was seriously and recklessly mismanaged almost from day one.

We are now left with a sorry mess which is a disater for local traders.

The chances of getting anything other then a cowboy developer in , in the next couple of years is remote. Newport Council as well are still determined to go ahead with the orginal project which was not viable. Look at the Kingway Centre conpleted last year and still almost empty.

People want to shop where there is easy and plentifull parking. Newport Council & Newport Unlimited had other ideas they decided they would discourage cars.

If Newport Council & Newport Unlimiteare so keen on public transport perhaps they will close their car Parks> They will not of cause because 99% of people working their travel by car.
The project was seriously and recklessly mismanaged almost from day one. We are now left with a sorry mess which is a disater for local traders. The chances of getting anything other then a cowboy developer in , in the next couple of years is remote. Newport Council as well are still determined to go ahead with the orginal project which was not viable. Look at the Kingway Centre conpleted last year and still almost empty. People want to shop where there is easy and plentifull parking. Newport Council & Newport Unlimited had other ideas they decided they would discourage cars. If Newport Council & Newport Unlimiteare so keen on public transport perhaps they will close their car Parks> They will not of cause because 99% of people working their travel by car. Bobevans
  • Score: 0

10:21am Wed 17 Jun 09

Esta says...

Perhaps the South Wales Argus could do a bit of investigative journalism for a change and expose what really went on instead of just trotting out "credit crunch" as the cause. It was certainly obvious to most of us that this project wasn't going to be achieved well before the credit crunch set in. Perhaps The Argus could find out exactly what Newport Unlimited actually did?
Perhaps the South Wales Argus could do a bit of investigative journalism for a change and expose what really went on instead of just trotting out "credit crunch" as the cause. It was certainly obvious to most of us that this project wasn't going to be achieved well before the credit crunch set in. Perhaps The Argus could find out exactly what Newport Unlimited actually did? Esta
  • Score: 0

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