FRIAR'S WALK: Newport looks for future of city shopping

South Wales Argus: EXCLUSIVE: The Argus front page from yesterday EXCLUSIVE: The Argus front page from yesterday

DEBENHAMS says it is still interested in coming to Newport despite the scrapping of the Friars Walk shopping centre scheme.

As we exclusively revealed yesterday, city bosses have taken the decision to look for a new developer and re-market the site.

Council leader Matthew Evans said developer Modus Corovest (Newport) had come forward with revised proposals but was not prepared to accept a scaled-down centre.

Debenhams was due to be one of the key anchor stores in Friars Walk.

A spokesman told the Argus that Newport remained an attractive market for the company and it would look at any revised development plans with interest.

Ken Ellis, president of Newport Chamber of Trade, said members had already agreed to seek an urgent meeting with Cllr Evans "to ask what plan B was" just before the latest development was revealed.

He still hoped to meet the council leader to find out what was going to happen now.

The council's own statistics showed that Tuesday was the busiest day of the week in the city centre.

"I have been in retailing for 40 years and I have never known a day in the week to be busier than a Saturday," said Mr Ellis.

"It is no good just tarting up Newport, we need drastic action.

"The council has a responsibility and we will be seeking assurances from Cllr Evans about what the council plan is and what they are going to do to support traders."

He came up with two suggestions which could help the city centre - park and ride facilities and a low-rental scheme to encourage take-up of empty shops, perhaps for art galleries or craft businesses.

"Independent traders are the lifeblood of city centres, they give it character," said Mr Ellis. "They need to encourage people to come into Newport and make it a good shopping experience. We are never going to compete with Cardiff, so let's be different to Cardiff."

Chamber vice-president Laura Buchanan-Smith said she was absolutely devastated and described it as a "kick in the teeth for the city" but it was not the fault of the present council administration.

Family-owned shoe shop AG Meek was one of the business which had to re-locate to make way for Friars Walk.

Director David Meek said it was obvious to them for months that Modus Corovest (Newport) were not going to be able to fund the development.

"If the council have acknowledged this and are looking for a new developer this is the best decision that can be made in very difficult circumstances."

John Burrows, chief executive of Newport Unlimited, said the urban regeneration company had been assisting the council for a number of years to get the project on site.

"We did everything we could behind the scenes."

A first class job was done to get where it did but it was one of the first major shopping centre schemes to be affected by the credit crunch.

Shopping centres usually take about eight years to bring into being but the council would not be going back to square one. Much was achieved such as securing planning permission and land acquisition.

Mr Burrows felt that when the market improved a developer would come forward but it might not be this year.

"We will have to see how things go in 2010."

He said the council had no choice but to make the decision it did and had done everything it possibly could.

Different options were explored but it had arrived at this position because there was no other way.

'We have to look forward' - Paul Flynn

Newport West MP Paul Flynn said it was a great shame but added it was happening to similar schemes all over the country.

"It is a blow but we have had disappointments in the past and we just have to look forward. There are good signs that the world economy is picking up."

Mr Flynn said hopefully there would be time of greater prosperity in the future when a new scheme could be brought in.

Rosemary Butler, the Newport West AM, said it was very worrying and she was raising it as a matter of urgency with deputy minister for regeneration Leighton Andrews.

She added the redevelopment was crucial and a new partner needed to be found as quickly as possible.

"I urge the City Council to pull out all the stops and I want the Welsh Assembly Government, who also have a major stake in this project, to help them in every way possible."

Comments (13)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

3:29pm Thu 11 Jun 09

zorro says...

Debenhams 'still interested in coming'. A bit different from 'is coming.'
Debenhams 'still interested in coming'. A bit different from 'is coming.' zorro
  • Score: 0

3:43pm Thu 11 Jun 09

The Rabbit says...

Now we will have even less reason to come into Newport. I try to support Newport’s Traders but where can you park?

All the spots where you used to be able to park are now being turned into Taxi Ranks (Commercial Street) or loading areas (Bridge Street).

We need more places where one can park for a short time, (a) for 2 hours and (B) 30 minutes. Most shoppers COME IN THEIR CARS, that’s why all the retail parks have car parks.

How can we support Newport’s beleaguered traders when we can’t get into the town to buy their goods? Let’s be fair, and I hate to admit it. But Cwmbran is a much nicer place to shop in, with free parking and lots of different, modern shops and all in a covered shopping mall.

Why can’t Newport Council reduce the parking costs for motorists using its car parks i.e. FIRST TWO HOURS FREE? This would do something to draw more people into Newport and more money into the tills of our traders.

So maybe Newport Council would lose a little revenue from their car parks, but this would be offset by the extra business it would generate for the town centre traders who, after all pay rates. If they go out of business they won’t be paying any rates.

NEWPORT COUNCILLORS PLEASE DON’T LET NEWPORT DIE …..

DO SOMETHING NOW!!!



Now we will have even less reason to come into Newport. I try to support Newport’s Traders but where can you park? All the spots where you used to be able to park are now being turned into Taxi Ranks (Commercial Street) or loading areas (Bridge Street). We need more places where one can park for a short time, (a) for 2 hours and (B) 30 minutes. Most shoppers COME IN THEIR CARS, that’s why all the retail parks have car parks. How can we support Newport’s beleaguered traders when we can’t get into the town to buy their goods? Let’s be fair, and I hate to admit it. But Cwmbran is a much nicer place to shop in, with free parking and lots of different, modern shops and all in a covered shopping mall. Why can’t Newport Council reduce the parking costs for motorists using its car parks i.e. FIRST TWO HOURS FREE? This would do something to draw more people into Newport and more money into the tills of our traders. So maybe Newport Council would lose a little revenue from their car parks, but this would be offset by the extra business it would generate for the town centre traders who, after all pay rates. If they go out of business they won’t be paying any rates. NEWPORT COUNCILLORS PLEASE DON’T LET NEWPORT DIE ….. DO SOMETHING NOW!!! The Rabbit
  • Score: 0

5:07pm Thu 11 Jun 09

angryofcwmbran says...

Lots of Newport people go to Cwmbran now to shop...except the scumbags, they stay in Newport because they don't know where Cwmbran is.If anywhere, Debenhams should look to Cwmbran to locate a store.
Lots of Newport people go to Cwmbran now to shop...except the scumbags, they stay in Newport because they don't know where Cwmbran is.If anywhere, Debenhams should look to Cwmbran to locate a store. angryofcwmbran
  • Score: 0

5:28pm Thu 11 Jun 09

socialistparty says...

Paul Flynn & Rosemary Butlers response to the setback to the Friars Walk Shopping development is pathetic, why are they MPs if all they can come up with are the same old phrases, the world economy is picking up, is it? there are more qualified economists than you MR Flynn who say the opposite, and for Rosemary Butler to say that she will raise this as a matter of urgency at W.A, she certainly has not kept in touch with the PFI failures over the past 6 months around country, and there is a partner available try the government and using public money.
Paul Flynn & Rosemary Butlers response to the setback to the Friars Walk Shopping development is pathetic, why are they MPs if all they can come up with are the same old phrases, the world economy is picking up, is it? there are more qualified economists than you MR Flynn who say the opposite, and for Rosemary Butler to say that she will raise this as a matter of urgency at W.A, she certainly has not kept in touch with the PFI failures over the past 6 months around country, and there is a partner available try the government and using public money. socialistparty
  • Score: 0

5:39pm Thu 11 Jun 09

Nevasleep says...

Meh, other towns in Wales seem to be able to get shopping centres, Wrexham + Carmarthen. Even Aberystwyth seems more likely to get a debenhams, seriously there are plans for that.

We just need to hope a new developer steps forward, hopefully be easy with 75% occupency, and most other major shopping developments having been completed.

Who is behind Cabot Circus and St Davids 2 etc??
Meh, other towns in Wales seem to be able to get shopping centres, Wrexham + Carmarthen. Even Aberystwyth seems more likely to get a debenhams, seriously there are plans for that. We just need to hope a new developer steps forward, hopefully be easy with 75% occupency, and most other major shopping developments having been completed. Who is behind Cabot Circus and St Davids 2 etc?? Nevasleep
  • Score: 0

6:47pm Thu 11 Jun 09

Bobevans says...

Watch out the luntic called John Burrows it on the loose again making more daft Press Statements. Quote "It takes about eight to 10 years to get shopping centre schemes completed. Only two to three years of that is the construction stage," he said. "

So he was lying all along thn. If you belive his daft 8 to 10 years the Redevelopment would never have been completed by 2010 so how was he claiming it would be finished well before the Ryder Cup

The guy is so daft he cannot even keep his stories consistant


The biggest laugh was the Celtic Spring Hotel. His plans should it have completed when all that happened was a small amount of site clearance.

You can guess what happened next, It got abandoned

Does that sound familar.
Watch out the luntic called John Burrows it on the loose again making more daft Press Statements. Quote "It takes about eight to 10 years to get shopping centre schemes completed. Only two to three years of that is the construction stage," he said. " So he was lying all along thn. If you belive his daft 8 to 10 years the Redevelopment would never have been completed by 2010 so how was he claiming it would be finished well before the Ryder Cup The guy is so daft he cannot even keep his stories consistant The biggest laugh was the Celtic Spring Hotel. His plans should it have completed when all that happened was a small amount of site clearance. You can guess what happened next, It got abandoned Does that sound familar. Bobevans
  • Score: 0

7:23pm Thu 11 Jun 09

PontyPeter says...

It seems that Friar's Walk
Was little more than talk.
Developers all pulled out
Leaving the city up the spout.
Newport Chamber of Trade
Thought they had it made.
A nice big Debenhams shop
But the bubble just went pop
Leaving every woman and man
with Cardiff or Cwmbran.
It seems that Friar's Walk Was little more than talk. Developers all pulled out Leaving the city up the spout. Newport Chamber of Trade Thought they had it made. A nice big Debenhams shop But the bubble just went pop Leaving every woman and man with Cardiff or Cwmbran. PontyPeter
  • Score: 0

9:13pm Thu 11 Jun 09

beggarsbelief2 says...

Of course I have been watching this story with interest since this news broke, and I agree with the vast majority of the comments posted yesterday on this site. In particular i fully agree with The Rabbit above. Don't let Newport die, it could and should be a wonderful place to live and work. Come on Newport Council show your actually interested. Do something about the chavs, SUPPORT THE TRADERS and tell Mr Burrows to 'eff off'.
Of course I have been watching this story with interest since this news broke, and I agree with the vast majority of the comments posted yesterday on this site. In particular i fully agree with The Rabbit above. Don't let Newport die, it could and should be a wonderful place to live and work. Come on Newport Council show your actually interested. Do something about the chavs, SUPPORT THE TRADERS and tell Mr Burrows to 'eff off'. beggarsbelief2
  • Score: 0

6:54am Fri 12 Jun 09

Bobevans says...

The real concern is we have the same failures still running it. WE have Newport Council who do not come out of this fisaco at all well and the total disaster that is Newport Unlimited.

The only thing Unlimited about them is their Unlimited capacity to make a total mess of everything they touch and their ability to WASTE an UNLIMITED amount of OUR money.

Why is this total UNACCOUNTABLE orginisation even allowed to be wasting our money?
The real concern is we have the same failures still running it. WE have Newport Council who do not come out of this fisaco at all well and the total disaster that is Newport Unlimited. The only thing Unlimited about them is their Unlimited capacity to make a total mess of everything they touch and their ability to WASTE an UNLIMITED amount of OUR money. Why is this total UNACCOUNTABLE orginisation even allowed to be wasting our money? Bobevans
  • Score: 0

8:24pm Sat 13 Jun 09

Bobevans says...

No developer is likely to take over the project in the short term. The other problem is the original plan was to ambitions and was not viable.

What is need now is an intrim plan to clean up the mes left behind.

We do though need a competent orgnisation to deliver it and that is most certainly not Newport Unlimited.

The plan need to be simple and quick to impliment and cost neds too be kept low but not so low that it it affects quality.

We are looking her at cosmetic changes not rebuilding.

A lot could be done in a short time at low costs but we must hve the right organisation to deliver it one that understands project management & costs.
No developer is likely to take over the project in the short term. The other problem is the original plan was to ambitions and was not viable. What is need now is an intrim plan to clean up the mes left behind. We do though need a competent orgnisation to deliver it and that is most certainly not Newport Unlimited. The plan need to be simple and quick to impliment and cost neds too be kept low but not so low that it it affects quality. We are looking her at cosmetic changes not rebuilding. A lot could be done in a short time at low costs but we must hve the right organisation to deliver it one that understands project management & costs. Bobevans
  • Score: 0

12:37am Mon 15 Jun 09

Newportonian says...

Debenhams? please.. most people cannot afford to shop NOW... who on earth will be able to shop in Debenhams...

And they wonder WHY the town centre is dying...

Talk about trying to look and act posh...

If the people in Newport can afford to shop in Debenhams, then they can afford to finish this shopping development off themselves... my word...
Debenhams? please.. most people cannot afford to shop NOW... who on earth will be able to shop in Debenhams... And they wonder WHY the town centre is dying... Talk about trying to look and act posh... If the people in Newport can afford to shop in Debenhams, then they can afford to finish this shopping development off themselves... my word... Newportonian
  • Score: 0

1:52am Tue 16 Jun 09

TicoPhil says...

I am NOT disappointed that Newport 'Friars Walk' has been ditched and I think we should celebrate what we already have. We have all the same shops that any other town has (and let's face it, they are all the same, from Newark to Nottingham...the same mindless chains so let's not get hung up on a Debenhams!! And what we already have apart from the same as everyone else, is a wonderful indoor market (and let's not underestimate this because it is so unique in a world where uniformity dominates). The parking is a problem...NCP are extortionate...but walk or use a bicicyle. If you are travelling from long distances, don't come to Newport...save the petrol, think of the planet, and if you must, catch a bus, catch a train!! No, I don't live in Newport anymore but visit regularly from Costa Rica and I tell you...it's as dull as any other British city and you really are not missing anything by having a multi million pound development that will look the same in any city in the world. We've got several here in San Jose...and I'd rather shop in Newport Market anyday. And if I need a little class, I go to Bristol. I hate Cardiff, it's overcrowded and full of people. And anyway, shopping online is so hassle free these days.
I am NOT disappointed that Newport 'Friars Walk' has been ditched and I think we should celebrate what we already have. We have all the same shops that any other town has (and let's face it, they are all the same, from Newark to Nottingham...the same mindless chains so let's not get hung up on a Debenhams!! And what we already have apart from the same as everyone else, is a wonderful indoor market (and let's not underestimate this because it is so unique in a world where uniformity dominates). The parking is a problem...NCP are extortionate...but walk or use a bicicyle. If you are travelling from long distances, don't come to Newport...save the petrol, think of the planet, and if you must, catch a bus, catch a train!! No, I don't live in Newport anymore but visit regularly from Costa Rica and I tell you...it's as dull as any other British city and you really are not missing anything by having a multi million pound development that will look the same in any city in the world. We've got several here in San Jose...and I'd rather shop in Newport Market anyday. And if I need a little class, I go to Bristol. I hate Cardiff, it's overcrowded and full of people. And anyway, shopping online is so hassle free these days. TicoPhil
  • Score: 0

2:05am Tue 16 Jun 09

TicoPhil says...

Some people on this messageboard mention Cwmbran as if it's Monte Carlo....Have you tried parking in Cwmbran at Christmas time? Waiting in queues for hours? While I agree the town has something good in its favour with the free parking, it's extremely difficult to park on a weekend at anytime of the year. Furthermore, it doesn't have anything that Newport hasn't got AND when I went for a meal in Weatherspoon's, they served dirty cutlery, a mangled lettuce and the toilets were disgusting. Newport is far better than this. I grant you it has a department store but I can never afford anything in there...not even in the sales. Now if you want a nice shopping experience, try Monmouth. What a beautiful town!
Some people on this messageboard mention Cwmbran as if it's Monte Carlo....Have you tried parking in Cwmbran at Christmas time? Waiting in queues for hours? While I agree the town has something good in its favour with the free parking, it's extremely difficult to park on a weekend at anytime of the year. Furthermore, it doesn't have anything that Newport hasn't got AND when I went for a meal in Weatherspoon's, they served dirty cutlery, a mangled lettuce and the toilets were disgusting. Newport is far better than this. I grant you it has a department store but I can never afford anything in there...not even in the sales. Now if you want a nice shopping experience, try Monmouth. What a beautiful town! TicoPhil
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree