Plans for a major €66 million (£48 million) waterfront development designed to create a vibrant new riverside community at Newport's Rodney Parade have reached a key stage with the selection of a preferred developer.
Following a competitive tendering process based principally on high quality design and sustainability criteria, the Welsh Assembly Government has selected George Wimpey South Wales as the preferred developer.
The redevelopment of this seven acre site is one of the keystones of the overall regeneration of Newport city center and a vital piece of the jigsaw destined to revitalise and transform the city.
It is a prime site on the eastern bank of the river, directly opposite the new Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre and close to the heart of the city. The development is closely linked to a number of other projects that are changing the face of Newport, including the redevelopment of the adjacent former Arts College.
The final touches are now being put to the overall design scheme which will go on display on 14th and 15th September as part of the public consultation process before final plans are submitted to Newport City Council in November.
A £2million flood defence project forms part of the development. This involves raising the land adjoining the river and constructing a riverside walkway to provide additional protection for some 4000 homes on the eastern bank of the River Usk.
George Wimpey propose approximately 480 one and two bedroom homes in buildings ranging from four to fourteen storeys and traditional houses. New affordable homes will also be incorporated in the scheme.
The development, which will be linked to the city centre via the new pedestrian bridge, includes shops and cafes and incorporates a number of new public spaces in addition to the riverside footpath. Environmental improvements are also to be carried out to the river bank to protect and enhance wildlife habitats.
Andrew Davies, Minister for Enterprise Innovation and Networks, said Rodney Parade had been identified by Newport Unlimited as a strategic site and a key component in the overall regeneration plans for Newport.
"The successful development of this site will make a vital contribution to the transformation of the city and as a result of the tendering procedure established by the Welsh Assembly Government it will set new high standards for design, quality and sustainability."
John Burrows, Chief Executive of Newport Unlimited, said city center housing was a vital part of the mix needed to stimulate investment and promote the economic vitality of Newport.
"The development will transform this area and create a strong visual impact while bringing environmental benefits for the city and ensuring that the River Usk is a focal point for Newport."
A multi disciplinary team has been assembled by the George Wimpey Cardiff office. Architects, Gardner & Stewart will provide the architectural input with local consultants, TACP, Hoare Lea and Veryards Opus, covering the many ecological, design and technical aspects of the project.
George Wimpey South Wales' Managing Director, Nigel Holland, described it as an "extremely exciting scheme and one which the Company was delighted to be chosen to develop. This new riverside development will create a vibrant and sustainable community that will be a key part of a high quality transformation of Newport City Centre. To be selected as the preferred developer is a great privilege for the George Wimpey South Wales Region."
Councillor Bob Bright, leader of Newport City Council, said: "The Rodney Parade area is a key site in our plans to reunite the centre of Newport with the Usk and I welcome this latest development."
"It is particularly pleasing to see the strong emphasis placed on high quality design and sustainability which is fundamental to all our redevelopment plans across the city."
It is anticipated that, subject to planning permission, work on the site will commence in the late Spring 2007 with the entire development taking some four years to com