Newport regeneration boost plan out to consultation

First published in Gwent news by

A PLAN to help transform the fortunes of Newport city centre went out to public consultation yesterday (Tuesday), as council officers propose to waive the need for developers to pay to convert buildings into housing.

Draft guidance, published by Newport city council, admits that changing shopping habits caused the decline of the city centre, and schemes to convert existing buildings into flats and houses are being "mothballed" because they are not financially viable.

Under the proposals, companies who convert existing buildings into city centre accommodation would not need to pay what is known as "section 106 money", which usually goes towards improving parks or creating extra school places when a new development is created, if paperwork is signed before July 2016 and developments would have to be completed within three years.

Under the current policy, planning permission to create five or more residential units would warrant extra money being paid, and proposals for 25 or more units are required to include 30 per cent affordable units.

The proposal would allow up to 30 units to be created in any city centre building - on land to the west of Newport Bridge (known as Town Bridge), down to George Street Bridge in the south and across to Mariners Green in the west - without any contributions or affordable housing.

The Argus reported last month that the exemption would not apply to new builds.

Bringing commercial buildings into residential use is part of an overall £250 million regeneration plan for Newport city centre, including a £15 million grant from Welsh Government’s Vibrant and Viable Places scheme.

The much-heralded Friars Walk scheme is due to be completed by November 2015 and will bring major retailers back into the city centre.

The draft guidance says that if more people move to the city centre it will provide "natural surveillance" and cut crime, and prevent structural damage in buildings during winter if they are heated and lived in, "preserving our built heritage".

"Residential property investment by the private sector, alongside council initiatives, can help improve the level of economic activity, increase footfall and bring vibrancy to previously empty properties," says the report, which adds that although the council could lose money if the moratorium goes ahead, this would be outweighed by the benefits of regeneration.

Two years ago politicians in Cardiff Bay put £10 million into bringing empty properties back to use and has recently released an extra £10 million, and Newport city council has already identified key buildings which are being transformed by developers, says the guidance.

To have your say visit www.newport.gov.uk/haveyoursay, write to Planning Policy, Newport City Council, Civic Centre, Newport, NP20 4UR or email ldp.consultation@newport.gov.uk before 5pm on September 23.

Comments (8)

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8:14am Wed 13 Aug 14

portman says...

Good Idea! simple as that !
Good Idea! simple as that ! portman
  • Score: 10

10:18am Wed 13 Aug 14

Mervyn James says...

Depends on your age I suspect, it is already difficult for elderly which is an increasing population here as everywhere to attend out of town shopping areas, or, to use the internet to shop. A town or city without any shops or business in, is going to die. It becomes an urban estate and we know how bad those places are. Yuppies will not be working here either, and why would they commute to live in Newport, when there is nothing here ? Creating more accommodation is good, can Newport find the tenants or owners to afford them ? I am seeing an increase of housing in Newport empty, because no-one can afford to live in them. if we cannot fill those, can we fill flats in Town ?
Depends on your age I suspect, it is already difficult for elderly which is an increasing population here as everywhere to attend out of town shopping areas, or, to use the internet to shop. A town or city without any shops or business in, is going to die. It becomes an urban estate and we know how bad those places are. Yuppies will not be working here either, and why would they commute to live in Newport, when there is nothing here ? Creating more accommodation is good, can Newport find the tenants or owners to afford them ? I am seeing an increase of housing in Newport empty, because no-one can afford to live in them. if we cannot fill those, can we fill flats in Town ? Mervyn James
  • Score: -1

11:32am Wed 13 Aug 14

landyman3030 says...

It's got to be a good way of using empty shops that in all practicality will never hold a business again. But Merv is right. It's got to be affordable housing so that ordinary people with ordinary jobs can afford to flee the nest as first rung buyers or those who have limited transport and want to live in the centre.
Care should be taken though that this development does not fall victim to the cheap accommodation ideal for private landlords to sub let turning it into a ghetto environment as many areas have become with - go on i'll say it - a massive influx of immigrants who will not work and choose to dominate an area as has happened in Corporation Road, Pillgwenlly, Maindee and such like.
Of almost 5,000 properties being constructed on the east side of Newport over the next 15 years, i see many will go to commuters for Cardiff and Bristol. People will choose to live there for prices but have to commute to work because Newport does not have the capacity of new jobs to support these developments. These people will have no need to enter Newport City Centre.
Lets hope the town planners are on the ball with this one.
I've just realised what i've said. Oh God here we go again...
It's got to be a good way of using empty shops that in all practicality will never hold a business again. But Merv is right. It's got to be affordable housing so that ordinary people with ordinary jobs can afford to flee the nest as first rung buyers or those who have limited transport and want to live in the centre. Care should be taken though that this development does not fall victim to the cheap accommodation ideal for private landlords to sub let turning it into a ghetto environment as many areas have become with - go on i'll say it - a massive influx of immigrants who will not work and choose to dominate an area as has happened in Corporation Road, Pillgwenlly, Maindee and such like. Of almost 5,000 properties being constructed on the east side of Newport over the next 15 years, i see many will go to commuters for Cardiff and Bristol. People will choose to live there for prices but have to commute to work because Newport does not have the capacity of new jobs to support these developments. These people will have no need to enter Newport City Centre. Lets hope the town planners are on the ball with this one. I've just realised what i've said. Oh God here we go again... landyman3030
  • Score: 1

12:01pm Wed 13 Aug 14

DavidMclean says...

It's definitely a good idea to get more people living in the city centre. I doubt many people could disagree with that, but as has been pointed out, the real issue here is jobs.

There seems to be a big push to build more housing across Newport - for example the new flats down towards the SDR City Bridge - but there needs to be jobs to attract and employ people, and of course for them to afford to buy.

The idea that just by building houses you will boost the local economy is nonsense. It's like adding rooms to a hotel if people can't afford to stay the rooms you already have.

Over the past decades we've seen businesses close and move out of Newport, and very little moving in to replace them. There are the occasional good hits such as the Admiral building, but there is still an imbalance that needs to be addressed.

I don't see that the Friars Walk will help. Not many of the zero hour, temporary, part-time, minimum wage jobs provided will allow people to purchase their own homes. Friars Walk is being championed as an employment boost, but let's be realistic here.

The Renewport plan to develop Newport as a high-tech centre shows much more promise and could attract a lot of very good businesses and create a lot of very good jobs (well paid jobs). But that's still very much an idea in progress and it will be a while before we see any movement.

So what we are left with is a push to develop more housing and accommodation for a local population that is struggling to find enough good paying jobs. It doesn't add up. As somebody said above, it's unlikely Newport will attract people to live here who work in Cardiff or Brizzle. It will be a long time before Newport will be in a position to do that.

More effort needs to be made to attract business and jobs. Once that gets on track people will be better placed to buy property.
It's definitely a good idea to get more people living in the city centre. I doubt many people could disagree with that, but as has been pointed out, the real issue here is jobs. There seems to be a big push to build more housing across Newport - for example the new flats down towards the SDR City Bridge - but there needs to be jobs to attract and employ people, and of course for them to afford to buy. The idea that just by building houses you will boost the local economy is nonsense. It's like adding rooms to a hotel if people can't afford to stay the rooms you already have. Over the past decades we've seen businesses close and move out of Newport, and very little moving in to replace them. There are the occasional good hits such as the Admiral building, but there is still an imbalance that needs to be addressed. I don't see that the Friars Walk will help. Not many of the zero hour, temporary, part-time, minimum wage jobs provided will allow people to purchase their own homes. Friars Walk is being championed as an employment boost, but let's be realistic here. The Renewport plan to develop Newport as a high-tech centre shows much more promise and could attract a lot of very good businesses and create a lot of very good jobs (well paid jobs). But that's still very much an idea in progress and it will be a while before we see any movement. So what we are left with is a push to develop more housing and accommodation for a local population that is struggling to find enough good paying jobs. It doesn't add up. As somebody said above, it's unlikely Newport will attract people to live here who work in Cardiff or Brizzle. It will be a long time before Newport will be in a position to do that. More effort needs to be made to attract business and jobs. Once that gets on track people will be better placed to buy property. DavidMclean
  • Score: -3

12:46pm Wed 13 Aug 14

John Frost Lives says...

For me it's great news, the city council and organisations working with it, really seem to at last have a joined up plan to re-generate our city. The people above, make good points about, making the high street work again, but I agree with those who believe, turning lots of what was our high street back into accomadation is the way forward. We definitely need to aim higher rather than lower end too. There is enough cheap property in Newport to rent or live in already, that's not our problem. Making the high street attractive is, and this part of the plan to re- generate the plan will work. Well done all concerned, I can see the City being totally changed by xmas next year. Yippee
For me it's great news, the city council and organisations working with it, really seem to at last have a joined up plan to re-generate our city. The people above, make good points about, making the high street work again, but I agree with those who believe, turning lots of what was our high street back into accomadation is the way forward. We definitely need to aim higher rather than lower end too. There is enough cheap property in Newport to rent or live in already, that's not our problem. Making the high street attractive is, and this part of the plan to re- generate the plan will work. Well done all concerned, I can see the City being totally changed by xmas next year. Yippee John Frost Lives
  • Score: 7

5:18pm Wed 13 Aug 14

Stan Edwards says...

...and then they woke up.
Where was/ is the independant assessment for Friar's Walk?
The market assessed it by not coming forward with private funding for the developer.
However, I have slightly changed my view of Friar's Walk. It will provide the most expensive 350 space car-park that will help the more traditional centre to survive.
Where did I recall 350 spaces before?
Ah yes the public lost them in the Admiral development.
Ho, hum!
...and then they woke up. Where was/ is the independant assessment for Friar's Walk? The market assessed it by not coming forward with private funding for the developer. However, I have slightly changed my view of Friar's Walk. It will provide the most expensive 350 space car-park that will help the more traditional centre to survive. Where did I recall 350 spaces before? Ah yes the public lost them in the Admiral development. Ho, hum! Stan Edwards
  • Score: -2

6:29pm Wed 13 Aug 14

blackandamber says...

I've said it before so I'll say it again where are the jobs with with enough wages/salaries to afford them.
I've said it before so I'll say it again where are the jobs with with enough wages/salaries to afford them. blackandamber
  • Score: -1

7:09pm Wed 13 Aug 14

Limestonecowboy says...

YUPPIES ! loads a money.
YUPPIES ! loads a money. Limestonecowboy
  • Score: -3

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