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‘Bright’ hopes for Newport as leisure centre construction to begin in June

Demolition work is ongoing at the site of the old Newport Centre in Usk Way (Pic: from October 2023, LDRS)

BUILDING work on Newport’s new leisure centre in Usk Way will begin in June 2024.

It will replace the former Newport Centre, which is currently being demolished to make way for a new Coleg Gwent campus.

There are hopes among the city council’s leadership that the two projects will bring more people into the city centre, ushering in a “bright future” and a new era of prosperity.

Council leader Jane Mudd said on Wednesday the project was “progressing well” and would provide “modern and accessible” sports facilities for the city centre.

Features will include a “modern leisure pool” with “exciting and fun equipment”, teaching pool facilities, “family friendly” changing rooms, an on-site cafe, a fitness suite, and an “active space” for group activities.

Construction work on the new leisure centre will take an estimated 18 months, Cllr Mudd told a meeting of the council’s cabinet.

Owing to the old Newport Centre’s decades-long presence in the community, its demolition was criticised by some, who also questioned the lack of a concert venue in the proposed replacement.

But Cllr Mudd said the former leisure centre had “complex” problems, was “outdated”, and was the council’s most expensive asset to run.

Keeping Newport Centre in operation was therefore “not an option”, she told cabinet colleagues.

The council’s leadership hopes the new leisure centre, combined with an influx of students to the new college campus, will have wider benefits for Newport.

Recent reports showed student numbers in the city had fallen by roughly 75% since 2010, prompting the council’s opposition leader to brand Newport a “poor man’s Pontypridd”.

But at the cabinet meeting, there was wholehearted support for the leisure centre project and the separate plans to build the Coleg Gwent campus nearby.

Debbie Harvey, the cabinet member for community wellbeing, said 94% of public consultees had agreed there was a need for a new leisure centre in Newport.

She called the two projects a “win-win” for the city.

Jason Hughes, the council’s cabinet member for social services, added that the project would “increase footfall and bring economic regeneration” to Newport.

The leisure centre plan was “preparing the way for what can only be a bright future” for the city, he added.