PLANS to increase rents for traders within Newport Market amid uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic have been slammed as ‘heartless’ by politicians.

Developers Loft Co have written to traders with details of new proposed rents and service charges as it plans a £12 million redevelopment of the building.

Traders said they have been told to submit business plans to the company which will then decide on offering places.


The ‘final schedule’ of terms, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, proposes increasing rents and service charges over a three-year period.

Traders were informed of the plans last week after a meeting.

Dean Beddis, of Kriminal Records which has been based in the market for 34 years, and Jim Harty, of Jamaire Gifts, have announced they will be moving out after learning about the new terms.

Loft Co says it has offered traders the first three months rent free and staggered charges over three years.

And Newport City Council said the scheme would give the market “a brighter and more sustainable future”, and “act as a catalyst for further regeneration.”

But the move has been blasted by Newport council’s Conservative, Independent and Liberal Democrat groups.

Cllr Matthew Evans, Tory group leader, said he was ‘appalled’ at the way tenants have been treated when the future of retail is “looking so bleak at the moment.”

South Wales Argus:

Cllr Matthew Evans

“The council is investing millions in this project and it would have been a small price to pay to support those who have supported the market through thick and thin,” he said.

“When it is up and running and showing increased footfall, that’s fair enough, but to do it at this time is particularly heartless.”

Liberal Democrat group leader, Cllr Carmel Townsend, said proposing increased rents is “a kick in the teeth for these hard working business people.”

“I want the council to look at this issue urgently,” she said.

South Wales Argus:

Cllr Carmel Townsend

“It is pointless having pretty new buildings – vital as they are – without traders there.

“My worry is that in our rush to have a brand-spanking new building we lose our loyal traders.”

Cllr Chris Evans, of the Newport Independents Party, said planning to hike charges at this time was an ‘insult’ to traders.

“These traders have stuck by our city in tough times,” he said.

South Wales Argus:

Cllr Chris Evans

“Surely now the developer should stick by the traders.”

The redevelopment promises a “market for the 21st century”, with flats, a tech hub, a hotel, a gym, a virtual gaming space and a cinema.

The plans have not yet been given planning permission and it is unclear when the new charges would come into effect.

A spokeswoman for Newport City Council said Loft Co has “a proven track record” and “promises to transform the market in the same way as the company’s other major developments including Cardiff’s Tramshed, Barry’s Pumphouse and Porthcawl’s Jennings Building.”

“Newport City Council was approached by the developer with a vision for the market that would realise its potential and ensure it can continue playing a pivotal role in the life of the city centre for many years to come,” the spokeswoman said.

“The award-winning specialist in SME incubation and community collaboration wants to create a 24-hour working/living space with a tech hub, 80 apartments and a performance space while retaining market units and a food hall.

“The scheme could attract 100 new businesses and create over 300 sustainable jobs.

“During lockdown, market traders have been given a rent holiday and are able to apply for other Covid-19 related assistance.

“The council believes that when the new scheme is completed it will significantly improve footfall and, therefore, will benefit the market traders.

“Simon Baston, of Loft Co, has been communicating his plans with the traders.

“We understand he has explained they will not pay rent during the construction period or for three months after the completion of the work.

“The rent increases will then be phased over three years with a break clause in their leases if they choose to leave the market.”

Loft Co has been contacted but has not responded.

South Wales Argus:

Simon Baston

Managing director, Simon Baston, previously said there may be “some rent increase” but they expect the scheme to lead to at least five times the current footfall.