Posted: Sat 2nd Mar 2024

Newport Council Strikes Deal with Consultant to Revitalize City Centre /

Newport Council has struck a deal with a consultant to reinvigorate the city centre.
Council leader Jane Mudd announced the deal at a meeting on Thursday (February 29), telling colleagues that a public consultation to “find out what everybody thinks” about the city centre would launch soon.
“Everyone will have an opportunity to respond and engage” with the new placemaking plan, which will set out the council’s vision and strategy for breathing new life into central Newport.
At the meeting, Cllr Mudd rejected the notion the city centre was “in decline”, saying she believed it was instead “in transition”.
Responding to a question from independent councillor Allan Morris, who said the authority “cannot ignore” the “state” of the city centre, she acknowledged there were challenges around empty buildings and said the council was working to bring them back into use.
Many of the empty buildings in the city centre are privately owned, the leader told the meeting.
The council can offer grant incentives to owners to encourage them to invest in those buildings, and when that fails can pursue enforcement options, she added.
Cllr Mudd noted several recent developments in the city centre, such as the new Corn Exchange music venue in High Street, the Mercure Hotel, and the renovated indoor market.
Another venture, Cosy Cinema, will open near the Mercure in the near future.
Cllr Mudd championed the city centre’s “independently-owned and community-owned” businesses and said the development of the new placemaking plan would bring “shape” and “strategy” to future plans.
Also during the meeting, councillors gave their unanimous backing to the extension of a business rates relief scheme for city centre traders in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.
The scheme is “fully funded by the council” and offers those eligible a 25% discount on their rates, Cllr Mudd said, adding that it would help businesses “remain viable”.
Cllr Kate Thomas said the rate relief was “to be welcomed”, and Cllr Gavin Horton – who is a business owner in the city – said the scheme was “very helpful” to traders.
He encouraged councillors and residents to shop in the city centre instead of buying online, telling colleagues “we don’t support the city centre enough”.
Cllr David Fouweather told the meeting he would monitor the progress of the rates scheme, adding that rebates given to businesses meant those traders “have to be successful”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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