THE Welsh Government is to give £1.5m funding to kick start the multi-million pound redevelopment of Newport city centre.

The cash comes as part of wider package of support from the Welsh Government, approved by Economy Minister, Edwina Hart, to the economic development and regeneration of Newport.

The money will be given to Newport City Council to carry out the demolition work needed for work on the Friars Walk retail scheme to begin. The scheme is expected to attract £88m of private sector investment to bring over 390,000 square feet of retail and leisure space including a major department store, a multiplex cinema and a wide range of shops and restaurants.

A 360-space car park and new bus station will be built as poart of the scheme. Developers expect to create up to 1,000 retail jobs and up to 300 jobs associated with the construction phase.

Mrs Hart said: “I am pleased to be able to offer this funding to Newport City Council to ensure this vital regeneration project can get started. The Friars Walk retail scheme will create hundreds of jobs locally and is important for the regeneration of the city centre.

This funding is another example of the Welsh Government’s commitment to delivering economic growth and jobs through capital investment.”

Councillor Bob Bright, leader of Newport City Council, said: “We are grateful to the minister and the Welsh Government for providing this funding which will help us to carry out essential preparatory work before the construction of Friars Walk can begin.

“The first phase will involve the demolition of shops in the John Frost Square area and the former Capitol car park. It will take us another step closer to our vision of a regenerated city centre which will benefit businesses and residents.”