Newport City Council’s cabinet has given in-principle backing to a £12 million redevelopment proposal to regenerate and revitalise the historic Newport Market.
Simon Baston, managing director of Loft Co, was behind the transformation Cardiff’s Tramshed, Barry’s Pumphouse and Porthcawl’s Jennings Building, now has exciting ambitions for the grade-two listed market.
The company plans to work in partnership with Welsh company WRW Construction on the project which will be completed in three phases over 18 months.
The award-winning specialist in SME incubation and community collaboration wants to create a 24-hour working/living space with a tech hub, apartments and performance space while retaining market units and a food hall.
Cabinet agreed to grant his company a 250-year development lease with the council receiving a 15 per cent share of the rental income following completion and a maximum loan facility of up £8.9 million at a commercial rate of interest. These are subject to satisfactory legal and financial due diligence.
Officers have been authorised to negotiate detailed heads of terms and finalise the lease and funding agreement.
If the scheme goes ahead following those checks, and the granting of planning permission, the work will be phased so businesses in the market can continue to operate during the construction period.
Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, said:
“We have been approached by someone who has seen the potential of Newport Market.
“As well as potentially rescuing the market from further decline, the proposals also fit in with the council’s ambition to have a more vibrant offer in the city centre.
“We are very excited about this opportunity as we see it as protection for, and enhancement of, an historic landmark and, just as importantly, a more secure and brighter future for the market.
“Simon anticipates the development could create more than 300 permanent new jobs, with a significant number of small and medium sized businesses taking off in the first year and, together with the increased residential use, that will inevitably boost the footfall and create more trade for the stall holders.
“We all still believe the market has an important role and the proposals will ensure it can be revitalised to meet the demands of the 21st century while retaining its historic place in the city centre.
“For a number of years, the market has been declining despite significant investment by the council and the efforts of the traders.
“The long-term future was looking uncertain against a backdrop of increasing bleak financial predictions for the council.
“Recently, the new chair of the market traders – Annette Farmer – has been doing some sterling work in an extremely tough environment for small businesses as the way we shop is radically changing. We believe this major investment in the market is exactly what the stall holders have been calling for over a number of years and a successful redevelopment will benefit traders and residents.
“Although the project is in the early stages, the administration felt it was important to make this public as soon as possible. Consultation days with traders, interested parties and residents will be held by the developer in the near future.”
Simon Baston said:
“Loft Co specialises in the refurbishment of complex mixed use schemes and, in particular, on a community collaborative level in the build-up of SMEs and incubation-style units.
“Loft Co has a strong basis of delivering community-led schemes in a highly regenerative type areas and will have a full commitment to ensuring complete engagement with all current members and users of the market, and future ones.
“We are delighted to have been chosen to work in partnership with Newport City Council on this absolutely iconic building and a template for what can be achieved in the 21st century in terms of full mixed use living. Loft Co sees Newport Market as a perfect template for a sustainable live/work basis.”