PLANS to convert a fire-damaged nightclub in Newport into affordable flats have taken a major step forward, with listed building consent having been secured.

The former Zanzibar nightlclub, on Stow Hill, was granted Grade II-listed status more than 40 years ago and a planning application was submitted to demolish part of the building earlier this year.

In its place, 37 affordable housing apartments would be constructed.

According to planning documents, the bulk of 40 Stow Hill would be demolished and replaced, though the historic frontage would be retained.

While these plans were given the go-ahead, the development needed to pass one final threshold before work can begin – listed building consent.

And this week (Tuesday, June 21), that permission was secured.

Why was listed consent needed?

Despite being fire-damaged and in a state of disrepair since the blaze four years ago, the former Zanzibar nightclub is protected by Cadw listed building status.

In 1980, it was granted Grade II-listed status.

This was granted due to the building’s origin as a mid-19th century Baptist chapel, which was built by Habershon and Pite in 1863. 

The National Wales: An overhead view shows the scale of the damage done to the buildingAn overhead view shows the scale of the damage done to the building

According to Cadw’s website, the Italian Renaissance style frontage is listed, and its proposed retention, repair, and restoration in the plans was considered “acceptable”.

A “detailed methodology for those repair and restoration works” was submitted along with the planning application for consideration.

What are the plans for the building?

It is claimed that the application to build the affordable homes at the former Zanzibar will “breathe new life into the site”, and the council's planning committee welcomed the plans, which have been granted with conditions.

Every apartment built there will be classed as an affordable home, as part of the scheme brought by housing association Linc Cymru.

"This is an important decision for the planning committee because there was a tragic fire in this area," said committee chair John Richards. "We’ve got a new church adjacent to this development and... a development of a derelict building, retaining the facade, is excellent.

"Affordable housing is 100 per cent excellent. It’s a good thing for the city centre."

No public objections were made to the plans, and Mike Southall, the agent for the application, said "there's been a long term will to regenerate the site following the nightclub’s closure a decade or so ago".

The fire in 2018 had left the former club "completely gutted inside" and had "resulted in structural concerns about the building’s future", he said, adding that the project "represents a £7 million investment in Newport".

Linc Cymru will also "pledge 0.25 per cent of the total build cost of the project to schemes in the local area", Mr Southall said.