BACKING NEWPORT: City ‘is in the right place to expand and prosper’

Original article written by Dr Stephen Fear for the South Wales Argus on 21st September 2016.

Entrepreneur Dr Stephen Fear, of Fear Group, explains why he supports our We’re Backing Newport campaign.

AS INTERNATIONAL property investors, finding appropriate locations and uses is essential to the progress of our business at Fear Group.

These days I spend much of my time finding suitable investment targets and (my son) Leon spends much of his actually doing the deals, although we cross over continually and work as an integrated team.

In 1981, I set up a research facility, then based in Wales, with the sole intention of finding global investment opportunities.

In 2006 it predicted a financial crash coming which enabled us to avoid much of the fallout by selling early.

It also predicted seven towns and cities in the UK which would grow regardless of financial meltdown.

One of them was Newport.

Newport has suffered much derision over the years, suffering in part by being placed between Bristol in the east, and Cardiff in the west, both vibrant hubs in their own right.

In a way its location worked against it. However every dog has its day and Newport’s location is now its raison d’etre.

With a revamped mainline railway station and electrification of the line, rail travel times to major destinations such as London, Paris, and Brussels are being cut dramatically.

In London’s case to just over an hour.

This makes Newport very commutable and improves its ‘covenant of place’, a term we use internally to assess the investment potential of an area.

Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham are also easily accessed, as are their international airports. London Heathrow will be less than two hours door to door.

The term, location, location, location is often used by property professionals when referring to whether a place is a good investment bet or not.

We believe that Newport’s location is its main investment advantage. Anyone looking to locate a factory or distribution depot should look at Newport.

It is so well served by road and rail, that, to coin a phrase, “It’s a no brainer”.

People-wise, Newport has a good skill base and a growing population, many of whom are now occupying the new housing developments along the banks of the River Usk.

The river running through the city gives it a focal point, especially when the tide’s in. It has a forward thinking council and a university with much potential.

Its population just needs to believe in itself a bit more.

Britain’s sporting success at the Rio Olympics has been amazing.

To come second in the medal table behind the USA is a triumph of dedication and application, not only by our brilliant athletes, but also by the facilities created for them to train – places like the Newport Velodrome where track cycling is performed throughout the year.

It is of international importance and of major relevance to the city, Wales, and the whole UK.

Newport has hosted both the Ryder Cup and The Nato conference in recent years, something that neither of its apparently, more glamorous sisters of Bristol and Cardiff has managed.

Cinderella may yet emerge as the belle of the ball, in investment terms at least.

As I say, it’s all about location, location, location.

Stephen Fear 2016 Twitter @fearstephen

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