PLANS to create “first of its kind” office space at the former Royal Mail sorting office in Newport have been unanimously approved.

The six-storey building in Mill Street will undergo extensive refurbishment – including partial demolition of three floors – to create 50,000 sq. ft of ‘grade A’ offices in the city centre.

The proposals tabled by Garrison Barclays Estates were discussed at a meeting of Newport City Council’s planning committee this morning.

Planning officer Stephen Williams described the building, which was most recently used by IAC, as occupying a “prominent” location within the city centre, but being "fairly dated".

South Wales Argus:

The former Royal Mail sorting office in Mill Street, Newport.

“[The proposed offices] are a lot more contemporary, modern and visually appealing,” said Mr Williams.

The meeting also heard that the proposed 84 car parking spaces exceeds demand, with planned demolition set to strip back the amount of office floorspace.

An extension to the building will be demolished to make way for a new access from Mill Street, while the ground floor will be repurposed as an open plan reception and lounge area.

Michael Southall, the agent representing Garrison Barclay, said: “It will be the first feature of its kind in Newport and will provide an economic boost to the area. The scheme represents a huge investment.”

Labour councillor John Guy, who moved that planning permission be granted, said it had been a “long journey” to bring the vacant site back into use.

“It’s right in the frontline of anyone that visits Newport, and they can see the state of the building,” he added.

Concerns voiced by Councillor David Fouweather over parking issues were echoed by fellow Conservative councillors Val Dudley and Richard White at the meeting.

Cllr Dudley was also told that the council would not be considering any new double yellow lines near the site amidst the expected takeover of civil parking enforcement from Gwent Police.

Lib Dem councillor Carmel Townsend asked about the cladding materials, referring to the disaster at Grenfell Tower in London last year, and was told the decorative aluminium mesh meets fire safety standards.

Labour councillor James Clarke, who said he worked next to the site, said: “It’s going to create jobs and bring footfall to Newport, which is something we strive for.”

The project is the latest from Garrison Barclay to be approved by Newport City Council after plans to establish a 163-bed Mercure Hotel at Chartist Tower – Newport’s tallest building – were given the green light in July.

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An artist's impressions of the new Chartist Tower scheme. Pic: Powell Dobson Architects

The Cardiff-based developers had originally planned for the former sorting office to be converted into a 80-bed hotel with offices, a scheme backed by a £12 million council loan.

But the project was shelved in April after the hotel chain pulled out of the deal.