UPDATE: Plans for massive development at former Sainsbury’s site given the go-ahead

Original article written by Ian Craig for the South Wales Argus published on 19th November 2015

THE MAN behind a £60m regeneration scheme for the former Sainsbury’s site at Crindau, Newport, has said he is ‘delighted’ to get outline planning permission from Newport City Council.

The scheme will include a 601-bedroom student housing complex, 142 flats and a hotel.

The council’s planning committee voted today to grant the outline application for the development of the site in Shaftesbury Street, which will also include a convenience store, a café or restaurant, health facilities and 307 parking spaces.

The 2.67-hectare site on the banks of the River Usk has been vacant since Sainsbury’s moved to Crindau about five years ago, with buildings gradually falling into disrepair.

Stephen Fear, of the Bristol-based Fear Group, which bought the site about five years ago, said he hoped to get on site early in the new year to start the demolition of the former supermarket which needed to be complete by the end of April because of fish migration/spawning issues in the River Usk, which passes right by the site.

He said that detailed plans would be drawn up simultaneously to the demolition so that work on building the new development could hopefully start in the autumn of 2016, after the fish migration season was over.
He said: “From our point of view the planning committee, councillor, officers and all the people we have met in Newport have been very supportive. The community has backed the proposals whole-heartedly. We have had mail bags full of support for the scheme.

“We are working very closely with the University of South Wales to deliver state-of-the-art student accommodation as part of the scheme.”

Speaking at yesterday’s special meeting planning officer Geraint Roberts said the development – which includes seven buildings, with the tallest reaching 17 storeys high – would enhance the riverside area around the site, which he described as “very sterile”.

“It’s been prone to anti-social behaviour and it isn’t very much used,” he said.

He added some of the parking spaces, which he described as “unapologetically dense and unapologetically urban”, would be at ground floor level while others would be in a basement area.

Planning agent Mel Clinton said applicants Wye Valley City Projects – part of The Fear Group – saw Newport as ‘a city with great potential’.

“As investors they see Newport as a city that is going places not least because of its clear vision position attitude and assets,” he said.

But Cllr Miqdad Al-Nuaimi, referring to an objection made by Newport West MP Paul Flynn – who did not attend yesterday’s meeting but expressed a number of concerns about the plans – questioned whether there was a need for so much new student accommodation in the city.

“Are they (student flats) really in demand this much?” he said. “I’m not sure.”

Mr Fear told the Argus that he felt the ‘negative’ comments from Newport West MP Paul Flynn about the plans were ‘very disappointing’ but said he was not going to comment further on them.

Members voted four to one to approve the outline application.

The development will include 28 affordable dwellings managed by Newport City Homes as well as 35 available exclusively to those aged older than 60.

Wye Valley City Projects has also agreed a number of financial contributions towards schools, play areas and the road system in the area.

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