Cranes on the Newport skyline

crane-Newport-HIt is said that the number of cranes that can be seen on a city skyline is an indicator of economic activity, says Haydn Thomas, of Newport-based Hutchings and Thomas Chartered Surveyors.

Currently in Newport City Centre there is only one crane visible (apart from those of increasingly busy docks). However this may be one of the most important cranes which will not only change the skyline of the city but also hopefully its economic fortunes.

The crane in question is located on the site of the new Admiral Building which is currently being developed. Admiral Insurance will be taking around 70,000 sq ft of office space in the office block adjacent to Newport’s main line railway station.

Admiral has been an out and out success story in the last 10 years and it is excellent news to see them locating in Newport City Centre.

With the development and occupation by Admiral will come a work force which will hopefully breath new vibrancy into the City Centre, creating its own economy and helping traders within the area to buck the current economic trend.

With the recent closure of Marks & Spencer, Next and Burtons, among others, within the retail thoroughfare of the City Centre, and the massive blow of the administration of Newport engineering business Rowecord, it is time the city had some good news and a splurge of inward investment to help the commercial business district out of its current malaise.

The Admiral commitment to the City Centre hopefully will stir on further interest and also assist the general momentum of the City Centre to enable Queensberry to proceed with their Friars Development.

We have been informed that the Friars Retail Development is still on course with regard to timing and have several key tenants signed up including Debenhams, Cineworld along with other food operators and various A3 national restaurants, which will hopefully form a critical mass to proceed with the development as planned at the latter end of 2013.

The location of both the Admiral scheme and the Friars retail development will create an excellent balance within the City Centre which should create a flow of foot fall to and from the main line railway station through to the Kingsway car park and hopefully breathe some vibrancy into this area.

With regard to the River Front, Newhaus continue their impressive residential development scheme to the western riverbank and this side of the river also has the impressive University Campus as well as the Arts Centre and the former Udex building now occupied by Alacrity

To the eastern side of the river, Taylor Wimpey’s development continues with the first phase of their residential development nearing completion and hopefully they will then move on to the Clarence Place site which will be developed in a phased manner.

The Former Newport Art College, which has now been converted into residential flats, seems to have been received well in the market with quite a number of the flats now sold, showing confidence in this area of the City.

Recently the 100,000 sq ft Clarence House office building has been sold at auction to a London based investor at a figure in the region of £4 million. The new owners have planned a phased improvement programme for the building, including external treatments, as well as improvements within the common areas and car park. This added investment is most welcome within the building and will hopefully aid the letting of the remaining 30,000 sq ft of void space.

On the sporting front although the Newport Gwent Dragons continue to struggle somewhat in the Rabo Pro12 League, the fact that Newport County Football Club has now signed a new 10-lease on Rodney Parade and have won through to a place in League two of the Football League, will hopefully create a vibrant sporting environment within the eastern side of the river. We have already noticed that the increased use of Rodney Parade has helped local pubs and restaurants in terms of generating a boost in trade.

In conclusion it must be said that Newport City has over the past 3-4 years been hit fairly severely in its retail heart by the economy down turn and although currently the situation seems rather bleak, with the projected developments in the pipe line and the underlying positivity of both the local authority and signs of an improving economy, we feel Newport is in a great position to recover from the down turn and linked with its continued industrial vibrancy experience sustained economic growth into the future.