The redevelopment of a fire-hit former military building in central Newport has taken a major step forward.

The city council has agreed planning permission for developers H Bowes and M Man to turn the former drill hall, in Lower Dock Street, after turning down an initial application in early 2023.

The scheme will also include a gym or office space for its residents, as well as a central communal garden area.

But the developers will have to secure listed building consent for the project before any work can go ahead – with heritage organisation Cadw expected to have the final say.

South Wales Argus:

The drill hall was badly damaged in a 2018 fire, causing the “destruction of the roof” and turning the current structure into “a shell of the original building”, according to a statement submitted by agents LRJ Planning Ltd.

The grade II listed building was built in 1902 by the 4th volunteer battalion of the South Wales Borderers. The agents added its “impressive, castle-like” style was normally used for mansions such as Cyfarthfa Castle in Merthyr Tydfil.

The developers now plan to repair the fire-hit hall and build nine flats inside, including the communal office or gym space.

South Wales Argus:

In a report, city council planners noted the redevelopment of the drill hall would “significantly benefit the remnants of the existing building, bringing it back into beneficial use and save [it] from collapse”.

The planning officers also noted the applicants had made several amendments to the original unsuccessful bid, including changing some of the proposed windows so that the current scheme “would not result in overlooking” of a nearby property.

No neighbours objected to the current plans during a recent consultation period, the planners added.

“The amendments have suitably addressed the concerns raised and the proposal would result in a positive contribution toward the overall character and appearance of the area, as well as delivering residential dwellings to serve the needs of Newport residents,” the planning officers concluded.

The redevelopment of the drill hall will remain on hold, however, while the council decides on a separate application for listed building consent for the works.

Council officers have recommended consent be given, with conditions, subject to approval from Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service.