AN EXTRA £140,000 is needed to move forward with plans to turn the former Newport Railway Station concourse into a “tech hub”, it has been revealed.

Later this week, Newport City Council will discuss the six figure “budget variance” in the plans to sub-let the Information Station building to Tramshed Tech.

It comes after delays in the project, due to the covid pandemic and “extensive issues with the landlord” seeing construction costs rise.

According to council documents, the additional costs come from the renovation required at Newport’s Central Museum and Library – where many of the existing Information Station facilities will be moved to.

This includes information about housing and council tax benefits, business rates, social services, child protection, access to supported employment, business rates and blue badges.

With the Information Station currently closed, and until the new John Frost Square facility is up and running, these services have been made available on a temporary basis from the Riverfront.

Initially, the project was set to come at a cost of £1,750,000.

Of this, £420,639 was to come from Newport City Council, with a £1,300,000 Transforming Towns grant secured from the Welsh Government.

The latest estimations place the total cost of the project at £1,890,000.

At the upcoming cabinet meeting on Wednesday, a decision is set to be made whether or not the council will allocate an additional £140,000 to make up the difference.

How did we get here?

In January 2012, Newport City Council opened the Information Station at the former Railway Station building – offering council services to the public here.

But, the building is privately owned by ArchCo, and as a result, the council has in recent years looked to sub lease the site to save on rent payments.

The upper floors have been sub let to Cardiff University, who operate their National Software Academy here.

Meanwhile, in December 2019, the cabinet agreed to “seek an alternative commercial use for the ground and first floor”.

Continuing, it was decided that “in addition to supporting regeneration and economic development of the city centre, sub-leasing the ground and first floor of the Information Station was seen as an opportunity to reduce expenditure and dependency on third party owned property.”

Following a tendering exercise, Tramshed Tech was identified as the successful operator of the tech hub.

It was determined that the cost of relocating council services to the central library building would cost £1,300,000 in renovation works at the John Frost Square building, but, before work could start, the UK entered a lockdown due to the covid pandemic.

In addition, the council said that there was “extensive issues with the landlord of the Information Station (ArchCo) with regard to the consent to sub-lease”.

Combined, these two factors, along with the rise in construction costs led to the overall cost of the project rising.

There is further concern that unless contracts are signed by June 30, 2022, the contracts will need to be re-priced, with “significant risk of prices increasing further”.

Should it be agreed that an additional £140,000 be made available, it is estimated that the council facilities at Newport Central Library would be ready for opening by the end of January 2023.

A pop-up library would be opened to reduce disruption to library services while work is ongoing.

Meanwhile, Tramshed Tech estimate that their tech hub would be open and operational by September 2022.

Newport City Council's cabinet is set to meet on Wednesday, June 15.