Newport’s multi-million pound new shopping centre has opened, in what is seen as a landmark for the city centre’s regeneration.
Friars Walk has been years in the planning and the development ground to a halt in the 2008 financial crisis.
Now it is opening with Debenhams as its anchor store and retailers such as Marks and Spencer moving back.
Newport Council lent the developers £90m in a commercial deal to ensure the centre opened on time.
Council leader Bob Bright said there had been a renaissance over the last decade and people “underestimated Newport”.
As well as 30 new shops, there will be about a dozen restaurants and an eight-screen Cineworld multiplex cinema.
Welsh fashion designer Julien Macdonald opened the Debenhams store.
Newport council leader Bob Bright said the shopping complex was part of a renaissance. Newport Council borrowed £90m at a lower rate of interest and then lent it on to the developers in a “calculated risk” to ensure the project was built. “Everything in life is risky but we were at an impasse when the developer was unable to raise the funds in the money markets because of the interest rates,” said Mr Bright.
First Minister Carwyn Jones joins council leaders for the official opening.
The complex is estimated to create 1,200 jobs within its shops and restaurants.