PLANS to convert Newport’s tallest building, Chartist Tower, into a 163-bed hotel have been unanimously approved – despite concerns from some city councillors.

The hotel, which will be run by Mercure, will occupy most of the currently vacant 15-storey building in the city centre.

Garrison Barclay Estates have promised a £12 million mixed-use development including a top floor restaurant, gym and conference facilities, as well as 30,000 sq. ft of office space, and 18,000 sq. ft of retail space.

But Labour councillor Miqdad Al-Nuaimi, while welcoming the proposals, told the planning committee on Wednesday that he wished for “more ambition”.

Cllr Al-Nuaimi said: “I think the regeneration could be a useful catalyst. My worry here is maybe we’ve missed an opportunity here.

“Maybe we could have had a better offer in terms of the quality of the hotel, especially parking.

“Experience has shown that hotels in the city centre that do not offer parking have not lasted long.”

Cllr Al-Nuaimi added: “People using this hotel are going to be visitors to Newport, and that is very welcome.

“I’d like to offer them a nice experience when they come to Newport. The hotel strikes me as a bit basic in that respect. I’m a bit disappointed.

Owain Griffiths, of Garrison Barclay Estates, argued that the “much-needed” development would be of a high quality.

The meeting also heard that the demand would meet expected demand from guests at future events held at the International Convention Centre Wales.

“This not a budget hotel, we’re talking about a four-star hotel here,” he said.

“We’ve got a restaurant at the top, coffee shop on the ground floor. It’s a multi-million investment in Newport, and it’s another great story for Newport.”

Planning officer Stephen Williams said that 20 of the existing parking spaces in the tower’s basement would be used by the hotel.

Garrison Barclay have also negotiated with operators of the neighbouring Friars Walk to secure 50 spaces in the shopping centre’s car park.

Carl Jones, the council’s principle engineer for transport, added: “[Chartist Tower] is on top of two bus stations and a very short walk from the rail station, so there’s no need for car parking.”

Labour councillor James Clarke said: “This can only be a positive, with footfall, the convention centre, and people staying in Newport and putting us on the map again.”

But concerns were also raised about the proposed cladding materials, notably the omission of a comment from the council’s fire officer.

Conservative councillor Val Dudley believed the council had to make itself feel “responsible” for the development following the fire at Grenfell Tower in London last year.

But Mr Williams replied: “The issue of cladding is a building regulations issue, not planning, and the scheme will have to be signed off by an approved inspector that will look into these issues.”

The approved hotel has been hailed as "“welcome addition” to the city centre by the leader of Newport City Council, Debbie Wilcox.

Cllr Wilcox added: “Like many town and city centres, we have seen the impact of the changes in people’s shopping habits and the loss of some of the major chain stores which have left big gaps in the High Street.

“However, the proposals for Chartist Tower show that developers have confidence in Newport and promise a much brighter future for our city centre.”