THE FIRST stage of demolishing a Newport pub as part of plans to build affordable apartments is nearly complete.

Work to demolish The Hornblower pub in Commercial Street, Newport, has been ongoing for around six weeks.

The demolition of the back part of the pub, the first stage, is now nearly complete.

Demolition work is expected to last around 16 weeks in total and is expected to be completed in February, 2018.

Plans by Pobl Group, which form part of a regeneration project, include demolishing each of the buildings at 123-129 Commercial Street and building a new retail unit on the ground floor and 38 flats exclusively for over-55s above.

The proposal also includes a new car park for residents of the building and the retention of a pedestrian ramp leading into the Park Square multi-storey car park

A spokeswoman for Pobl Group said the completion of the project is scheduled for the end of 2019.

As the Argus previously reported, Pobl required a compulsory purchase order from Newport City Council to buy the three-storey Hornblower pub at 126 Commercial Street, having already taken over the other six units.

Without the acquisition of the pub, the project could not go ahead, so Pobl appealed to the council to buy the building and then sell it on to them in case negotiations with the pub's owner broke down.

A report to Newport City Council's planning committee earlier this year said the proposal represented “an exemplar scheme in terms of revitalising the spiral of decline intrinsic to low-value and poorly maintained property, which characterises large sections of Commercial Street.”

The report said the scheme would create around 50 new jobs and bring about £5 million into the city centre.

It added: “Newport is currently benefitting from a generational opportunity to maximise the groundswell of positivity and interest that Friars Walk has generated and must ensure that the momentum of regeneration begun by Friars Walk is not lost."