The city of Newport is bracing itself for major changes over the coming years. Leading Newport architect Richard Andrews talks about how he would exploit the many and varied skills of his business to boost the fortunes of the city...

The potential in Newport is huge, with so many regeneration strategies going on there is plenty of business here. There is also exciting Bristol trade expanding further into Wales.

When the bridge toll is scrapped it will increase the value of all properties in and around Gwent. There is lots of potential, therefore, for enlarging your house with equity, regenerating and revamping industrial areas and creating the potential for business hubs all over Newport.

In addition, the UK’s soon-to-be largest conference centre will be landing in Newport in 2019 at Celtic Manor Resort, which hopes to attract some 3,000 people a day.

This has a huge bearing on Newport. It needs to be attractive for all and make the most of the business, retail and leisure it could receive.

The whole of Gwent stands to benefit from this exciting building.

Infrastructure will have to be properly thought through and this could in time come in the form of the new M4 relief road to free up the current M4. Newport is still currently on Welsh prices which go a long way for someone moving from Bristol, for example. We believe this a massive pro.

Having networked in the Bristol area I know that the market is there, it’s just a case of building trust in expertise with good people. Cons would be the difficult nature of the authorities to embrace new developers and seek better mediation between all parties. Something that we can help bridge – with the right consultation.

The biggest impact will be the rise of value to most properties and the growth of new businesses infiltrating all areas of the city and surrounds.

There will be a huge influx of people looking to buy here now because of the prices, but also for a better quality of life.

Newport can flourish, but it must become flexible to all this change and work with those new home owners and businesses coming to the city. It must implement the culture, arts and historical element to help this along.

I hope that Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates, goes through with his pledge to spend £1bn improving Welsh infrastructure. Introductions such as the metro system, the abolishment of tolls on the Severn Bridge and improvements to the Brynglas Tunnels, would have a profoundly positive impact on Newport businesses.

How would I improve the city to make it fit for the 21st century?

I would start by integrating the Friars Walk and John Frost Square areas with the rest of Newport. This could mean the introduction of Teflon plastic sheltered walkways like the current ones on Friars Walk. I’d change the slippery paving in Commercial Street to a more energetic colour which blends in with Friars Walk.

I’d uplift and enhance current signage. I’d like to see the introduction of history boards for visitors to read and people to be proud of. This promotes a sense of place. Lastly, green landscaping can dramatically soften a landscape and Newport city centre is a bit hard and cold. You can cage around trees at low level and heighten walls to protect flowers, for example.

We need to enhance culture, arts and history more. This can come in the form of pumping a lot of money into a potential new visitor’s centre for Caerleon with a strategy to open the rail line there and show off the amazing Roman features far more.

Did you know that the UK’s largest Roman villa has been found on the lower rampart of the amphitheatre? Also new boutique hotels in the city centre need to start rising up to support tourism and business trade. Open top bus tours are still commonly used in London, so why not start this in Newport? What do we have in Newport I hear people say. Lots is my response – we have Caerleon, the Transporter Bridge, Fourteen Locks, the Celtic Manor in all its splendour, the Riverfront Theatre where the Medieval ship was found, John Frost Square, the route of the Chartist March, The Wetlands and so much more.

Richard Andrews Architects is a design-led Royal Institute of British Architects chartered architectural practice providing services to both commercial and domestic clients which is based in the heart of Newport's business district - Gold Tops.

With more than 21 years in the construction industry, I decided to set up Richard Andrews Architects in late 2012. We are a small, yet strong team of eight including four architectural assistants, one architectural technician and two administration staff.

For the full interview with Richard Andrews and more in depth features about business in south east Wales, take a look at our sister publication The Business: