Newport Now Business Improvement District manager Kevin Ward looks forward to an exciting 2019 for the city centre...

FIRSTLY, Newport Now would like to wish all BID Levy payers, their staff and customers a very happy and prosperous new year.

The new year promises to be an exciting one for Newport in general, and the city centre in particular.

July will see the opening of International Conference Centre Wales.

A joint Celtic Manor-Welsh Government project, the centre will be able to cater for up to 5,000 delegates at a time and has already bid successfully for some world-leading conventions and conferences.

The potential impact on Newport is huge.

Demand for hotel beds will go through the roof, and the Mercure Chartist Hotel on Commercial Street will be open in the summer.

A four-star hotel in the city centre offering unparalleled rooftop views can help to transform the area.

Plans to regenerate the indoor market, although not universally popular, will move forward during the year as will the Lottery-funded refurbishment of Market Arcade.

More residential accommodation – for example, on the site of the old Hornblower pub and Albany Chambers – will bring more people and trade to the city centre.

Meanwhile, in April the BID will enter the final year of its initial five-year term.

As a private company funded by its members, we will consult with all levy payers over the coming months on a new five-year business plan to be delivered between 2020 and 2025.

Levy payers will then vote in a ballot towards the end of this year to decide whether to renew the BID for another five years.

The BID has achieved much since 2015 but there is still plenty of hard work ahead as local businesses seek to improve their city centre.