Planning go-ahead for Wales International Convention Centre

Construction work on the new Wales International Convention Centre at Celtic Manor will begin in the new year after the project won full planning approval from Newport City Council on Wednesday 3 June  Read more

Designed to attract major events from across the world, the proposed state-of-the-art auditorium, exhibition hall and associated facilities will have capacity for 4,000 delegates, making it the largest facility of its kind in Wales and the south west of England.

The auditorium will hold 1,500 delegates with the flexibility to divide into smaller spaces and a separate main exhibition hall will stretch to 4,000 square metres of pillar-free space and be able to accommodate up to 2,700 guests for a gala dinner. Total floor space across the convention centre will exceed 27,000 square metres.

Celtic Manor Resort vice-president of facilities and development Russell Phillips said: "We are excited by the news that this project has won full planning approval from Newport City Council.

"We secured outline planning last July and, since then, we've been talking with local residents, the council and environment agencies, as well as our conference clients and experts from the convention industry, to ensure our final planning submission was as comprehensive as possible.

"We will now be able to start some clearance work at the end of this year with a view to breaking ground on the new international convention centre in January 2016."

More than 200 jobs will be created during the three-year construction phase and the centre is expected to sustain around 250 permanent jobs once it is fully operational in 2019.

Independent economic impact studies show it will bring a substantial boost to the Welsh economy, creating around 110,000 bedroom nights per annum for hotels throughout South Wales.

Convention centre facilities will include:

1,500-seat tiered auditorium

4,000 sq m pillar-free exhibition/conference hall, holding 2,700 gala dinner guests and divisible into six sections

13 additional flexible syndicate meeting rooms

Spacious lobby, atrium and breakout spaces

Outdoor terraces and adjacent woodland

Entrance plaza with outdoor theatre potential

Image shows interior of Wales International Convention Centre - courtesy of Scott Brownrigg architects  Read less

Projects set to make city centre more vibrant

Newport's vibrant and viable places programme is making good progress with a number of projects now under way.  Read more

Key buildings in High Street are being transformed thanks to financial assistance from the scheme while other properties are being given a new look.

Newport City Council was awarded nearly £15 million by the Welsh Government under its vibrant and viable places regeneration framework and this is expected to lead to a total investment of £60 million thanks to partnerships with the third and private sector.

The ambitious initiative is aimed at creating homes and businesses in key buildings, bringing new spaces, skills and jobs to the city centre.

Newport City Council is on track to spend more than £6 million of the Welsh Government funding in the first year of the programme.

Minister for communities and tackling poverty, Lesley Griffiths, said: "We want communities across Wales to be vibrant, viable places to live, work and socialise. I'm delighted the Welsh Government has been able to award nearly £15 million towards the regeneration of Newport, which is set to have a truly transformative effect on the area.

"The start of work on this first series of projects marks a significant milestone. This programme of regeneration will not only will create much needed homes and businesses, but also boost the local economy and provide essential jobs and training opportunities."

Councillor John Richards, Newport City Council's cabinet member for regeneration and development, said: "It has been a long-held ambition of the council to introduce a more vital mix of business, homes, and jobs into the city centre and it is exciting to see those aims coming to fruition.

"The vibrant and viable places programme is an important piece of our vision to revitalise the city centre which includes Friar's Walk, the establishment of the Business Improvement District and superfast broadband.

"We have worked with the Welsh Government and a number of different partners to deliver these first projects and we can look forward to many more over the next couple of years making the city centre a great place to live, work and relax."

One major project involves a major facelift for the landmark National Buildings in Commercial Street, once home to Marks electrical shop. Work has begun on a new look for the shop fronts and the residential upper floors.

Andrew Jacobs, a National Buildings trustee, said the property was about 100 years old and stood on the site of the former St Paul's National Schools.

"National Buildings is an ornate building but over the years has suffered from the ravages of time.  We are all extremely pleased and excited that the building will be restored to its former glory with the help of Newport City Council.  The whole of the front of the building is being cleaned and the façade is being brought back to a similar look to when it was originally built in the early 1900s.

"The building has a prominent standing opposite St Paul's Church at the lower end of Commercial Street and will provide an attractive entrance to one of the gateways to the city centre.  The property provides a selection of retail units from half units to a double-unit which can foster growth from start-ups to fully established businesses.  As well as retail, the property is also home to 12 flats which provide for an exciting and vibrant time in the heart of Newport for those lucky enough to live there."

Last year Newport negotiated a short-term loan to the company owned by successful businessman Jahan Abedi to convert the former Kings Hotel into high quality apartments, offices and shops. The High Street project is the second major project in the city for Mr Abedi, one of TV's Secret Millionaires, who is also behind the successful Shire Hall development.

Grant aid has also been awarded by the council towards the major refurbishment of the former Yates building to turn it into a Premier Inn, also in High Street and near the railway station.

Improvements to the access and frontage of the Citizen's Advice Bureau in Corn Street and enhancements to the facades of three commercial properties in Cardiff Road are also progressing.

Meanwhile, the first project to be started as part of the programme is due for completion this summer. Construction company Willis are turning a property near the Royal Gwent Hospital into apartments for the Seren Group.

Neil Barber, Seren's director of development, said: "Seren is really pleased to be working with Newport City Council and Willis Construction to deliver one of the first major schemes to be funded under the Welsh Government's vibrant and viable places programme.

"This is such an important initiative from WG as it is making a huge difference to the ability to bring buildings which have been empty for extremely long periods back into beneficial use. This project is an excellent example as the buildings had been vacant for nearly 20 years and were falling into serious disrepair and attracting anti-social behaviour.

"This was made worse by the fact that they occupy such a prominent location next to the main entrance to the Royal Gwent Hospital and also on one of the major access roads to the city centre. We have been delighted with the support we have received from the city council to turn this eye-sore into high quality affordable apartments. The completed buildings will also include many of the original design features which will enhance the Clytha Square conservation area."  Read less

T.G.I. Friday's latest to sign up for Friars Walk

Queensberry Real Estate today announced that T.G.I. Friday's is the latest restaurant to sign up to Friars Walk when it opens in November this year.  Read more

T.G.I. Friday's becomes the 10th restaurant to take space in Usk Plaza, the leisure section of Friars Walk joining the likes of Prezzo, Le Bistrot Pierre, Nandos, Las Iguanas, GBK, and Loungers.

David Carroll, Property Director, TGI Friday's UK said "We are delighted to be bringing the TGI Friday's unique experience to the outstanding Friars Walk retail & leisure development in the heart of Newport."

Stuart Harris, Commercial Director and Co-Founder said: "TGI's is another great brand to add to our mix of restaurant options at Friars Walk, we now truly have something to suit all tastes.

"The quality of restaurants in combination with the retail and leisure offer at both Friars Walk and nearby will offer everyone leisure choices throughout the whole day and evening in a fantastic new modern environment.

"In addition we have agreed terms on another 10 retail units, a selection of local, regional, and national operators with many of them coming to Newport for the first time."

Queensberry Real Estate has designed Friars Walk so it integrates seamlessly in to Newport's existing retail and leisure offer. Friars Walk will bring more than 390,000 sq ft of modern, well-configured retail and leisure space.

It will include a full offer Debenhams Department Store, 35 retail units including Next, H&M, Top Shop, River Island and New Look, 11 restaurants, 350 parking spaces and a major new bus station interchange.

On completion the scheme will provide an estimated 1,200 jobs worth around £15 million in salaries a year to the local economy. This is in addition to the jobs created during the construction phase and the potential for local companies to be involved in the supply chain of the centre.CBRE is the appointed agent for restaurants.  Read less

Queensberry announce Friars Walk opening date of 12 November

Friars Walk, the new 390,000 sq ft retail and leisure destination in Newport, South Wales will officially open its doors at 10 am on 12 November 2015.  Read more

Paul Sargent, chief executive and co-founder of Queensberry Real Estate said: “We are delighted to announce that Friars Walk will open as scheduled in November.

“This is an amazing achievement as we set the date over a year ago before even going on site. I must thank all parties involved and a special thanks to Newport City Council and our contractor Bowmer and Kirkland for getting us to this stage.

“Friars Walk will transform Newport, giving people a reason to return to the city centre. We have a fantastic line up of retailers and restaurants and we estimate that we will receive around 10 million visitors in the first year alone.  There is a real buzz and sense of excitement from within the community and we will create an environment that people will want to return to time and time again.

“It has taken just 4 years to develop the concept, secure funding, find the right tenant mix and build the scheme. It is an amazing success story for both the council and QRE.

“Friars Walk will be the first retail scheme to be delivered by Queensberry Real Estate since it was formed just 5 years ago. We are also proud to announce we will be fully involved in the ongoing operation and management of the centre.”

The scheme is currently 65 per cent let and Friars Walk is set to be one of only three shopping centres forecasted to open in the UK in 2015. In addition to this it is one of the country’s most significant regeneration investments to be built and delivered post-recession.

Bob Bright, Leader of Newport City Council said: “To have the opening date for Friars Walk confirmed is another important step in the much anticipated retail and leisure development for the city.

“We know that having a transformed city centre offering retail and leisure has been something that our residents have wanted to see for many years.

“Newport City Council has been instrumental in this development coming to fruition and took the innovative decision to fund the development at the end of 2013, this meant the development could become a reality sooner rather than later.

“This regeneration scheme has transformed the city centre and with the opening in our sight our residents can look forward to a development that will give them big brand shops, restaurants, entertainment and new employment opportunities in the run up to the festive period.

“We hope that this Christmas will be particularly special and one to remember with the opening of the new retail and leisure centre at Friars Walk in the thriving heart of the city.”

Queensberry Real Estate (QRE) confirmed the opening date following a confident discussion with the main contractor Bowmer and Kirkland.  QRE took over the site from the council in February 2014 and are now entering the advanced stage of construction. A total delivery programme of only 22 months.

Work is progressing across the entire site, the buildings for key anchor tenants Debenhams and Cineworld are being constructed at pace and in recent months steelwork on the remaining blocks adjacent to Debenhams has started.

Floors and roofs are being formed, staircases and lifts are being installed and the external walls on key buildings underway and buildings will soon be enclosed and watertight ahead of the tenant fit-out works.  Read less

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Rob Frowen, Manager

Tel: 01633 656656



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