Demolition workers start to clear former city Sainsbury’s site
Original article written by Jo Barnes for the South Wales Argus as featured on their website on 27th February 2018.
Work has started to clear the former Sainsbury’s site in Crindau, Newport, ahead of demolition of the building as part of a £60-million redevelopment scheme in Newport city centre.
The Bristol-based Fear Group bought the site about six years ago and have now handed it over to Hereford-based Wye Valley Demolition, who are expected to be onsite for about 12 weeks carrying out the demolition of the ‘eye sore’ building.
Initial work of clearing the site is expected to take a couple of weeks before workers move on to dismantling the roof, which needs to be done by hand following the sighting of a bat which led to a special licence needing to be obtained.
Once that is done, the building will be pulled down and the site levelled.
The Fear Group hold planning permission for mixed use including student accommodation, a hotel and residential, for the site, but they will be submitting a new application for the site later in the year, saying that Brexit and student numbers were the reason behind the changes.
Work to demolish the building has been hit by a number of delays, including the bat sighting, all of which Leon Fear, of the Fear Group, said had been ‘frustrating’.
But he told Business Argus that they were were pleased to finally have got work started.
He said: “We always believed this day would come because we always said we would demolish this building. The local residents have had to live with this eye sore for too long.”
Will Godfrey, chief executive of Newport City Council, who was also on site to see the diggers starting their work, said: “From our perspective we don’t want to see any development site vacant and an opportunity missed.
“We want to work with anyone who is going to come in and try to improve the city.”
Dr Stephen Fear, of the Fear Group, said: “We are hoping to invest more in Newport in the future, not just on this site but to do with manufacturing as well.
“Brexit has changed the investment profile for a lot of investors because at the moment, noone knows where they are with it. We see it as an opportunity and I think Newport, with the electrification of the railway and it being so well location, is a real hot spot. It is no longer the ugly sister between Cardiff and Bristol.”
The 2.67-hectare site on the banks of the River Usk has been vacant since Sainsbury’s moved to Crindau around five years ago.
The Fear Group have spent more than £300,000 on the application to transform it.
In 2016 The Fear Group, which is run by Dr Stephen Fear and his son Leon said it had given up on plans to redevelop the former supermarket site at Wyndham Street after delays in signing a legal agreement with Natural Resources Wales and after the site was targeted by vandals, thieves and arsonists.
But they decided to carry on with the scheme and just before they managed to get on site at the beginning of last year, they were held up again after a bat was spotted flying into the building.
And before Christmas they had to secure the back of the site close to the river with shipping containers welded together in a bid to stop travellers moving their vehicles onto it.