PLANS to demolish and redevelop a row of Newport city centre buildings, including a former pub, described as “a blot on the landscape” are to go ahead thanks to a £1.05 million taxpayer handout.

Newport City Council’s Labour-run cabinet gave the go-ahead yesterday, Wednesday, to hand over the cash to developers Pobl to knock down down 123 to 129 Commercial Street, including the Hornblower pub, and build a nine-storey block.

The £10.2 million scheme, which was given planning permission in January, involves 38 flats, which will be exclusively available to the over-55s, and a shop on the ground floor.

Speaking at a meeting at Newport Civic Centre yesterday the council’s cabinet member for regeneration and housing Cllr Jane Mudd described the plan as “the next steps in the regeneration of this area”.

“This area is particularly difficult for us all because the area we are talking about does look a little bit like a blot on the landscape,” she said.

“So there’s an opportunity not just to change how the city looks, but also contribute more affordable housing.”

And council leader Cllr Debbie Wilcox said she was “hugely enthusiastic” about the scheme.

The Welsh Government has also agreed to invest almost £3.9 million into the development, part of its Vibrant and Viable Places scheme, which is working to regenerate town and city centres across the county, on the condition Pobl agrees to provide and extra 18 affordable homes in the area, taking the total cost of the scheme to £12.5 million.

Also speaking at yesterday’s meeting, the council’s deputy leader Cllr Mark Whitcutt said the development proved Friars Walk was not the end of the the authority’s plans for regeneration of the city centre.

She said: “People were saying ‘Friars Walk is all very well, but what are you doing about the bottom of Commercial Street?’

“Well here it is, part of it anyway.”

Cabinet member for licensing and regulation Cllr Ray Truman also backed the scheme, saying: “This is another piece of the jigsaw and the people of Newport will embrace it, I’m sure.

“Here is a great opportunity, let’s embrace it.”

A report presented to cabinet members said the development would create more than 200 jobs in the city centre and “remove a focal point for anti-social behaviour in the city”.

“The proposed development sits in a difficult urban location and the complexity of the scheme intersects with an ambition to deliver a statement development synonymous with the renewed sense of confidence around the city centre,” it said.

To view the full report presented to cabinet members visit