Richard Hayward Properties (RHP) and The Tonstate Group have agreed a deal with Sports Direct in one of the most significant retail lettings in Newport’s recent history.

The deal will see the sportswear and equipment retailer occupy 23,000 sq ft on the upper first and second floors of Olympia House, the former location of the Passport Office in the centre of Newport. It is a highly important signing and it is hoped it will be a catalyst for further regeneration in the city centre.

Sports Direct has signed a 50 year agreement with the joint venture partnership.

The Tonstate Group and Richard Hayward Properties have already started enabling work on the redevelopment of Olympia House, ahead of submitting a planning application in coming weeks. The jv partners are currently finalising plans to transform the prominent, 9-storey building into residential units for private rental, with commercial uses on the lower levels. It is anticipated the signing will make significant difference to Newport city centre and increase the demand for the shop units .

Built in the 1960s, the 90,000 sq ft Upper Dock Street building currently consists of 13 retail units and six floors of office accommodation above. The new plans will see it converted into up to 60 apartments with a gym, shops & restaurants on the first three floors and basement level parking.

Principal of RHP, Richard Hayward said:

“This is a very significant signing not just for the JV but for everyone that lives, works and enjoys Newport city centre. It shows our commitment to revitalising Newport by bringing a strong retailer that will bring vibrancy into the city. This deal, together with the opening of Friar’s Walk shopping centre later this year, will help to put the city back on the shopping map and complement the other regeneration schemes recently completed and currently underway.”

These include RHP’s redevelopment of the old Yates Wine Lodge building into a new 60-bed Premier Inn. Planning consent was granted by Newport City Council two days before Christmas, and Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, gave conservation approval to the work last month (January 2015).

Sports Direct is the UK’s largest sporting retailer, and operates over 500 stores worldwide. The company owns a large number of sporting brands, and other retailers owned by the company include USC and Lillywhites.