MAJOR plans to transform Newport’s tallest building into a 163-bed hotel is a “clear statement of the city’s ambition”, a council report has said.

Garrison Barclay Estates announced that a deal had been struck with Mercure to run the new venture at Chartist Tower subject to planning permission, in May.

Now, planning officers have recommended that the scheme is approved by councillors on Wednesday.

The hotel forms part of a £12 million mixed-use development which includes a top floor restaurant, 30,000 sq. ft of office space, and 18,000 sq. ft of retail space.

Cardiff-based estates firm Garrison Barclay have said that the scheme, if approved, will create more than 350 jobs and that construction could start in August.

A report says: “The development will activate the building that can be considered the most visible symbol of Newport’s decline over the previous decade, making a clear statement of Newport’s recovery and ambition that also delivers genuine economic benefit to the city.

“The status of the reported brand the hotel will operate under suggests that a development of quality will be delivered and underline the potential of the Chartist Tower redevelopment to become a key economic anchor for Commercial Street.”

The report notes that the proposals fail to satisfy a policy within the council’s local development plan (LDP) involving development on the Upper Dock Street frontage of the 15-storey building.

But officers say the potential economic benefits “significantly outweigh” the policy issues when considering the high vacancy rates in the city centre.

Gold non-combustible cladding has been proposed to rejuvenate the look of the high-rise building, which was built in the 1960s.

Similar external works have been proposed for the former BHS store in Commercial Street and other units fronting Upper Dock Street and Austin Friars.

The report suggests that the basement car park, which provides 34 spaces will remain in use.

Garrison Barclay bought Chartist Tower last December, with a spokesman saying retail and office spaces are currently under offer from national companies.

The planning committee meeting will take place at 10am.