PLANS to open up the vaults underneath Newport Market to the public are set to be approved.

Earlier this year, plans were submitted which would see the storage area beneath the newly-renovated market brought back into use.

According to these plans, the space will be used for shops, restaurants, offices, health, and leisure businesses.

The developers have previously told our sister title, the South Wales Argus that this would include private dining rooms, an 80s-style video games arcade, beauticians' salons, rentable studio spaces and events rooms.

But, with Newport City Council holding an ownership interest in Newport Market, developer LoftCo’s application is required to go before the council planning committee later this week - Wednesday, July 6.

Ahead of this, the council’s planning officers have compiled a report looking into the plans, and have concluded that they should be approved.

What do plans show?

Subject to the necessary planning permissions, the Market Vaults will be opened up to the public, and offer another unique leisure and retail space for the city.

It will be home to events space, along with beauty salons, a retro gaming arcade, tattoo parlour, and more.

Plans would also allow for a bar, and office space to be homed here.

While efforts would be made to retain the historic aspects of the space, there would be some changes needed to comply with modern day requirements.

This includes protections against damp and flooding, raising low arches for safe access, replacing the lift shaft with toilets – and installing a new lift, and installing new lighting, ventilation, and heating systems.

What has been said about the plans?

Following submission of the application, 150 nearby premises were alerted to the plans, and just two representations were received – neither offering any objection.

It was noted that the market is located in an area with a number of business trading late into the night.

As a result, it is not thought that any noise generated by opening up the vaults would prove problematic to those living in the city centre, as residents “already reasonably expect levels of noise and disturbance, which are common place in areas where there is a night time economy.”

The National Wales: The vaults could be radically transformedThe vaults could be radically transformed

While there is not set to be any major visual changes to the site, these would be covered by a listed building consent application, which currently exists separate to the change of use application.

In conclusion, the planning officer said: “It is considered that the proposed uses of the vaults allows an opportunity for public appreciation of the historic layout and former use of these rarely seen vaults.

“The uses would allow the vaults to be used flexibly, allowing greater opportunities to enhance the overall offer of the Market.

“It is considered that these range of uses would not cause any additional harm to neighbouring amenity of nearby occupiers; and the uses, along with the Market as a whole are highly accessible from a range of sustainable travel modes.”

How did we get here?

According to planning documents, the proposal would radically transform a part of the city which has been largely forgotten about in time.

Just below Newport Market lies the Market Vaults, a space steeped in history.

Originally, they were used to house live cattle and livestock – proving a supply of meat for the butchers in the market above.

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It is understood that the cages were also used as a makeshift overflow prison back in the heyday of the city's docks.

More recently, they were used as storage space for the market traders above.

They were also used to house Newport's first escape rooms - The Escape Rooms.

But, with the most recent tenants "currently between premises", the vaults currently lie empty, and did not form part of the recent redevelopment of Newport Market.

A final decision on these plans is set to be made at a Newport City Council committee meeting on Wednesday, July 6.

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