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The painful transformation of Wales’ once booming city and how they survive

Debenhams, Topshop, Jack & Jones, Cineworld, Peacocks, Schuh, Tiger, and now Admiral.Big names that have left or are about to leave Newport Last week’s announcement of the Admiral – A hammer blow to a city that is already struggling long before the pandemic takes hold.

Large companies are looking for more efficient ways to operate, and traders who rely on the commuting economy will bear the brunt. The pandemic not only accelerated the decline of this once booming city center, but changed it forever.

The question now for all cities in Newport and Wales is what this place will look like in the post-pandemic world. Who is shopping here and what is its role in maintaining its relevance?

WalesOnline talked to university lecturers, council leaders, business experts, architects, and traders in Newport city center to see if they could thrive again. But the immediate challenge is to survive. This is what we found:

  • Independent traders desperately diversify and call on others to gather and make the city a hub for their “destination” streets.
  • Some traders said they felt they were no longer dependent on the commuting economy
  • Some say they don’t know how Newport will deal without a big company
  • Expectations that more large companies will leave the city and hybrid work facilities that are widely used by independent companies will become popular
  • More people live in the center of the city and focus on athletic housing and leisure facilities
  • Focus more on culture to attract more tourists to cities rich in artistic heritage
  • Less traffic and more environmentally friendly infrastructure

As you walk down Newport’s main commercial street, the number of empty units is obvious, but not surprising. Between them are charity shops, arc shops, and many discount stores. There are still relatively busy Primark stores that attract shoppers, and many shoppers have said they support the idea of ​​taking advantage of the larger space in the vacant Debenhams building of the Friars Walk shopping center.

In recent months, Friars Walk has lost Debenhams and Cineworld, and it’s still unclear how long things like Next and H & M have been clinging to. However, many independent retailers have moved in Kevin Ward, the manager of the local Business Improvement District (BID), believes they still have hope and thanks.

Admiral Insurance has announced that it will move 900 employees from Newport city centre.

“We need to get used to the fact that flexible working styles after a pandemic have become the norm and are now the norm,” he said. “I think it’s all part of the changes that have already taken place in towns and city centers. These changes have just been accelerated by the pandemic.

“We’ve already seen a lot of places where housing development is underway, including Newport, and obviously some major retailers are leaving. Indeed, in the last two years, much more than in the last five years. A new independent business is starting here.

“For a place like Newport of the future – a combination of leisure, smaller retail space and an increased number of independents, and a more residential city center.

“When it comes to office space, people who work flexibly don’t always want to do it at home, so I think the option of using shared spaces and shared workspaces is important.”

Newport is to offer a hybrid office space with several rentable locations, especially within the new look market and the pub of the former Queen’s Hotel.

Experts predict that as the number of people living in Newport city center increases, the demand for experience and leisure facilities will increase.
Experts predict that as the number of people living in Newport city center increases, the demand for experience and leisure facilities will increase.

“If people work primarily at home and more people live in Newport, they’ll still be out for lunch or coffee,” Ward added.

Willgreen, who owns Newport’s Rogue Fox Coffee Shop with his wife Alexia McCullmont Green for four years, and also owns the Admiral Office and the plant shops Nettle and Burke, a few meters from the station. It states as follows. Recently I decided to change the model. I realized that their business wasn’t as dependent on commuters as I first thought.

“We have made this a destination and have been really working hard to build a street by introducing retail stores and coffee shops here,” he said.

“We thought we were dependent on the commuting economy and only worked from Monday to Friday, but now the patrons working at home are still resting and leaving us. I found out that I was visiting.

“The admiral’s going does not have to discourage people. We can still be the destinations of those who come out during the lunch break.”

Will Green, who owns Newport's Rogue Fox Coffee Shop for four years
Will Green, who owns Newport’s Rogue Fox Coffee Shop for four years

Newport-based architect Luis Grucot, who is involved in the design of Newport’s city center, will live in the city center over the next few years as more hybrid workspaces replace retail stores. We anticipate more potential people.

“I met clients in London, Birmingham, Europe, and locals. They are all investing in big buildings such as banks, department stores, big offices, retail spaces and trying to turn them directly into apartments. “Grucot explained.

Putting people in the center of the city seems to be the best way to ensure that the hub of the city has a future. But offering something different can help them prosper. Dr. Richard Smith, a world city expert and associate professor of geography at Swansea University, said it was not surprising that Newport faced a very pressing challenge.

Newport's Main Commercial Street
Newport’s Main Commercial Street

“Small towns and cities can be lost because there are many corporate secondary offices. Corporate headquarters and large offices tend to be in large cities, and the functionality of small offices tends to be absorbed by large offices. “He explained.

“The convenience of online shopping today (the blockade has made consumer habits more rooted) means that the city or town center must be a place for socializing, entertainment and experience.

“The diversification of retailers, where chains move from traditional town centers to retail parks on the edge of the town, and the sophistication and growth of online retailers are becoming more and more trending due to pandemics. Town [and city] Centers are becoming less and less places to shop and more and more important for leisure and experience. “

Penny Fox, who works at The Port at Flyers Walk, which welcomes street vendors, is passionate about making this Christmas a memorable one.

“In general, I think working from home will be really, really hard for us,” she said. “I hope the Christmas market on Commercial Street will benefit all businesses. To turn this around, we need to bring something nice to Newport.

“I don’t think we’re happy. It’s closed. It’s quiet, quiet, and some of the buildings we boarded look uncomfortable. In the market, we want to put a gazebo in front of a wooden building. I am thinking.”

Jane Mad, leader of the Newport Council, believes that urban revitalization needs to be based on people’s well-being, especially as a result of a pandemic.In the last few days A £ 20m plan to replace Usk Way’s Newport Center with a leisure center, well-being center and pool hall has been approved.

“The positive result of the pandemic is that we are really focused on happiness right now,” said Cllr Mudd. “Having it makes sense for our citizens who live in some of our most disadvantaged communities within walking distance.

“Evidence shows that there is a demand for office space throughout the region, but when people use it, they want to stay in the environment longer and also seek experience there.”

Coral Ford, 29, now working at Carpenters Arms on High Street, used to work at Admiral.
Coral Ford, 29, now working at Carpenters Arms on High Street, used to work at Admiral.

29-year-old Coralford, now working at Carpenters Arms on High Street, once worked for the Admiral, but recently left because she didn’t enjoy working at home. She asks if people mainly prefer to work from home and believes that hybrid workspaces are used well.

“Many young people join the Admiral because of the social aspects of their work,” she said. “There were lots of night outs, team lunches, and parties that benefited the city and attracted young workers. We always go to pubs and coffee shops at lunchtime because we have a lot of lonely work. Many people do not leave now.

“Things have dropped significantly in Newport. When I was 17, there were a lot of pubs – it was great. The cafe was good. Now people go to Spyty Retail Parks and Cardiffs instead. There is a tendency. “

Cllr Mudd said: “”

She also quotes the decline in commuters as a plus for urban air quality, stating:Devon Place Pedestrian Bridge’s job is to survive the Christmas holidays.. For connectivity, connect all active travel routes. It’s huge-it means it’s easy for people to get to the city without a car. “

Jordan Setterfield working at Hogarth in Newport since 2017
Jordan Setterfield working at Hogarth in Newport since 2017

Admiral staff visited Hogarth every year for Christmas parties and frequent pubs at night, said Jordan Setterfield, a pub employee who has been working at the bar since 2017.

“When it first opened in 2017, it was really busy, but now it’s not the same,” she said. “The closure will affect us and hurt the small businesses here.

“It’s already happening. For example, the people who lived in Ringland who used to come here aren’t coming anymore. We’ve lost our regulars.

“Our customers are now older. We are more dependent on them. They come here every day. We are now really based on them. Looking for another way. need to do it.”

Lisa Realoid said the pub
Lisa Realoid said the pub “definitely suffers” from the Admiral’s decision.

Her colleague Lisa Realoid said the pub “definitely suffers” from the Admiral’s decision, but she isn’t surprised. “It’s already started. We’ve already seen so many problems with homework. Many companies now work from homes they’ve never thought of before. It’s long lasting. Looks like-even if we get over the pandemic, it will be quiet in the town. We played rugby over the weekend-it wasn’t as busy as we should be.

“The Admiral is one of Newport’s major employers, and anything can happen when you look at it. The Admiral has taken the first step, but I think others will follow.”

Dr. Smith agrees: “More companies will close their secondary and smaller offices while maintaining and perhaps expanding their main offices.

“The pandemic has focused on staff well-being and mental health. For most companies, staff are important resources and costs, so keeping them happy and productive is the management’s focus. It’s an important concern.

“Giving staff the option of staying at home, hybrid, or office work means that it is somewhat inevitable that small offices will be closed and a small number of office workers will be concentrated in fewer locations.

“In a sense, Newport is a victim of its geographical location. Very close to both Cardiff and Bristol, businesses tend to have larger offices.”

Newport tries to do the same, as companies prioritize happiness and efficiency in order to survive the new look.

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The painful transformation of Wales' once booming city and how they survive

Source link The painful transformation of Wales' once booming city and how they survive

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