FOR longer than I care to remember, among the most striking features of Newport city centre has been the ‘To Let - Office Space’ sign high on the side of the Chartist Tower.

While the city’s tallest building has not lain completely dormant, the fact that this sign, or versions thereof, has been a constant in the landscape over many years is an economic barometer of sorts, indicating potential unfulfilled.

Good news then, that there is a possibility - and it is important to stress that currently, it is just that - of new life being breathed into the 15-storey tower, in the form of a hotel development.

Details were aired at this week’s Newport City Summit at the Celtic Manor Resort, a city council-organised event bringing together the council, businesses and the technology industry to discuss the city’s future.

During the summit the council also unveiled a regeneration masterplan for the city centre, with the aim of making Newport a more attractive place to live, work, visit, and crucially, to invest.

The tenor of such gatherings is inevitably positive, and there are plenty of cynics ready to sneer and say that ‘we’ - a corralling of an imaginary army of dissenters - have heard it all before.

Indeed we have.

Newport was the subject of an ambitious masterplan a dozen or so years ago, but while not all the proposals came to pass, a considerable amount has been achieved in the city in that time.

I’m not going to trot out a list. It is obvious that in several key respects Newport is a very different, a much more vibrant and appealing place in which to live, work and play, than it was back then.

Now, the vision is being refreshed.

There is more to do and based on what was revealed at the summit, plenty of determination to get on and do it.

The Chartist Tower is of course, but one piece of the redevelopment jigsaw, albeit perhaps the most prominent - and while it would be easy to carp about its being a monument to the aberrations of town planners past, that will not fill its vacant floors of office space.

Whether it ultimately becomes a hotel or fulfils another function however, wouldn’t it be great to have a reason to take down that sign, its absence as good a signal as any that investors are putting their faith in the city?