Fear Group look to sell former Sainsburys site

Original article by the South Wales Argus as featured on their website on 24th April 2018.

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The owners of the former Sainsburys site in Newport city centre have announced their intention to sell it, or find a partner who is willing to develop it.

The Fear Group bought the site, now known at Newport Gateway, about seven years ago and work is currently under way demolishing the derelict former supermarket buildings and clearing the site to secure it.

The group currently has planning permission for a £60m scheme including a hotel, student accommodation and housing but said earlier this year that it expected this scheme to change and would be resubmitting plans to the city council.

But Dr Stephen Fear, who runs the Fear Group with his son Leon, has now told the Argus they have now decided to sell it or find a construction partner who can develop it rather than do it themselves.

Dr Fear blamed the number of delays which they faced on the site over the years on their decision.

These included an arson attack and the sighting of a bat entering the building, which meant they had to get special permission before any work could start.

Dr Fear said: “We feel a duty of care to the immediate neighbours and Newport to make sure an appropriate scheme is produced, so we won’t be submitting another application until we find a buyer or construction partner suitable to us, the city council and the people of Newport.

“Although we own the site and in the end any decision is ours, we feel it essential that its future is decided by consensus.

“In the meantime though the site will be cleared and secured and we will be very proactive in deciding its future.”

Dr Fear said: “While we are in no rush to sell the site, our management team are very stretched at the moment with projects in Manchester, Leeds, London, Bath, Bristol and South Gloucestershire and because of the unfortunate delays, Newport has slipped in our programme.

“At the time of the arson incident last year we committed to demolishing the buildings and preparing the site for development but were undecided whether to carry out the development ourselves.

“We felt a responsibility to the neighbours to demolish the buildings and tidy the area up.

“Within the next two months this task will have been accomplished, so we will have fulfilled that commitment and feel it may be best to move on and allow someone to develop this important strategic city centre site rather than wait another 12 to 18 months for our current construction commitments to clear.

“As you know we have been involved personally with this site for nearly eight years so will not be accepting offers unless we are convinced that the prospective purchaser has the ability to deliver a worthwhile development faster than we can at the moment.”

The Bristol-based Fear Group is working with Hereford-based Wye Valley Demolition on the clearing of the ‘eye sore’ buildings and levelling the site.

Work will also include building up the river bank as part of a flood defence and levelling off the site.

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.

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