The shopping units in Newport city centre that have been empty ever since they were built

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Seven years ago this month, the new Admiral office block in Newport opened for the first time.

The six-storey, 80,800 sq ft office block on Queensway, in the heart of the city centre and a stone’s throw from the train station, was heralded as a much-needed step towards enhancing the city’s economy when it opened in June 2014.

Part of a multi-million redevelopment of the old Cambrian Centre, the project has by all measures been a huge success, employing 1,000 staff and continuing to bring jobs to Newport today.

But right at the foot of the towering building is a slightly odd sight – a host of empty shop fronts which have been empty ever since they were first built.



The units are right next to to the successful Admiral building




Advertised as an ‘Eat, drink, shop’ mixed-use development, today there are a handful of units with signs up advertising spaces between 1,353 and 8,976 sq ft.

But despite the success of Admiral, these units have never been occupied. Indeed, today there is little sign of activity in the area other than some slightly overgrown weeds and graffiti. The same signs erected when the units were first built are still there.



The shops have been there for years but have never been filled



Admiral has been a huge success – but the whole development hasn’t been immune to the recent hits to the economy

There are ongoing plans for another 53,075 sqft of office space, a small area of retail space, a kiosk and a “plaza” next door to Admiral, the next stage of what is known as the Station Quarter development.

Led by Scarborough Development Group, planning permission for the new block was granted by Newport City Council in 2016, but construction has yet to commence. Last year, the developers said they hope to pre-lease some or all of the building “before we commence construction”.

If it goes ahead, the project would see the front façade of the John Wallace Linton Pub on Cambrian Road demolished with the new frontage tying into the design of the office building.

But it’s not clear why these shops, which appears to be ready to go, have never been let, especially with the great success of Admiral.

Paul Kelly, Development Director at Scarborough Development Group, said this week that the units have “not been immune” to the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on retail across the UK.

“The retail industry has been one of the hardest hit sectors by the pandemic, with restrictions on trading significantly impacting demand for space and a small number of kiosk units at our Station Quarter scheme have not been immune to this,” he said. “However, the existing food and beverage operators located within the development have continued to trade well during this period, boosted by their gateway location in the heart of the city centre and proximity to the rail station.”

Mr Kelly said the developers “remain committed” to delivering the next phase of the development.

“Despite the uncertain economic climate, we remain committed to our ambition to deliver the next phase of development at the site, which will include a 53,075 sq ft office building, and are currently in discussions with our design team as to the best way to bring this forward,” he added.



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