Urban Regeneration Companies (URCs) have been established to focus and integrate regeneration strategies for key towns, cities and regions within the UK.
They work in partnership with local authorities, business and community representatives / organisations, Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and Government in order to produce and co-ordinate a powerful and coherent vision for the future of their areas.
The URCs co-ordinate and facilitate investment and development plans in both the public and private sectors arenas, and also help to attract new investment and development through the promotion and regeneration of their areas.
URCs seek to achieve a radical physical and economic transformation of their areas, through implementation of a shared vision in a way that could not be effectively achieved through individual ad hoc decisions. In February 2001, Corus announced substantial job losses at the Llanwern Steel Works in Newport along with closures at Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent and elsewhere in Wales.
The Corus announcement led the Welsh Assembly Government to commission the preparation of the Five Counties Regeneration Framework and separate Regeneration Programmes for Newport and Blaenau Gwent which were endorsed in summer 2002.A key action arising from the Regeneration Framework was to ensure that Newport once again fulfils its former strategic economic role within the sub-region, the establishment of a URC to draw up regeneration proposals for the city was considered key to achieving this.
The Newport Regeneration Programme defined a set of principles which would guide investments to realise its regeneration. These principles are based on a thorough analysis of the baseline economic context, an assessment of the national, regional and local programmes and policies, and a comprehensive consultation exercise with all key stakeholders.
In January 2013 a leaked report showed that the company’s funding would cease in April 2013, with the city council believing it could save money by bringing the work in-house. In October 2013 Newport Council made a bid for funds from the Welsh Government to enable the council to continue the regeneration process.
The six regeneration principles are:
- Create a More Diversified Economic Base
- Reinforce Newport as an Economic Engine in the Sub-region
- Establish the City Centre as an Attractive Retail and Business Location
- Establish Newport as a City for Lifelong Learning
- Secure Newport as a Centre for Logistics
- Ensure that All Share Newport’s Prosperity
The objectives of the Company are:
- To promote the development of Newport as a premier location for business, enabling the city to act as a major driver of economic growth and prosperity in South East Wales.
- To promote the economic vitality of Newport City Centre by stimulating investment in retail and office development, leisure, educational facilities and City Centre housing, and to create an attractive and culturally vibrant City Centre.
- To maximise access to and within Newport and its City Centre in order to support economic development and assist easier and more convenient travel around the city and more use of sustainable forms of transport.
- To improve the city’s environment, regenerate vacant sites, develop parks and walkways, and make the River Usk a focal point for the city.
- To contribute to work on the Eastern Expansion of the city around Llanwern.
- To promote and further the development of the business parks at Newport West around junction 28 of the M4.
Central Area Master Plan
The first challenge facing the URC is to regenerate the Central Area of Newport. This includes the City Centre itself and adjacent gateway areas.
East Area Master Plan
The potential development area comprises the redundant element of the Llanwern Steel Works together with the greenfield land to the north and east of Llanwern village to support the significant growth of the city.
West Area Master Plan
The Junction 28 area is a strategically important location to provide a base for quality employment opportunities, situated between Newport and Cardiff and lying adjacent to a motorway junction. It is important that its full economic potential is exploited.