Legal & General, acting in partnership with North Somerset Council, has purchased the Sovereign Shopping Centre in the centre of Weston-Super-Mare for €23.3m (£21m). On completion, the shopping centre will immediately be fully let to North Somerset Council, enabling them to retain over 60% of the shopping centre’s income with no borrowing or expenditure of their own. This will generate a long-term revenue stream for the council, allow for further local investment, and enable North Somerset to curate the town centre more effectively. The investment is part of a wider strategy for Weston-super-Mare, including converting several shops and car parks in the town centre to residential housing; regenerating the town and creating much-needed housing for local people, whilst focusing retail demand on the Sovereign Centre, to the benefit of the council’s revenue.
The centre extends to 119,084ft², comprising 32 retail units, four kiosks and a food court. The ownership includes a further 10,764ft² across six retail units located on High Street. In addition, the centre includes an 876 space multi-storey car park, forming a large part of the town’s parking provision.
Pete Gladwell, Head of Public Sector Partnerships at Legal & General, said: “Society is the sum of interrelations, and yet the financial sector has too often been a one-way street; sapping wealth into speculation that benefits only a few. Our support of North Somerset Council is a productive investment that supports the original source of society’s wealth – communities across the UK. By partnering with a progressive and proactive council, we can enable the regeneration of necessary retail provision for the area, deliver them sizeable revenue surpluses, and act as a catalyst for their plans for wider regeneration, boosting local jobs, homes, and driving economic growth.”
Cllr David Pasley, North Somerset Council's executive member with responsibility for asset management said: “This is a bold and innovative decision that will allow us to generate a significant annual income. In the face of diminishing government funding and cut-backs, we have to take big steps to replace the funding we depend upon to continue essential public services. As the traditional high street continues to change, the council is making a major commitment of confidence in our local economy, community and business sectors. We will be exploring options around how a re-focused Sovereign Centre can add to the vibrancy of the town centre, encouraging local independents to take space, looking at family-focused activities and seeing whether other services could be operated from units in the centre as well as retail. All this supports our vision to enhance the town centre which focuses on living, learning and lifestyle."
Mark Robinson, Property Director at Ellandi, added: “We were brought in little over a year ago by the owners to provide strategic and asset level advice on how to maximise value. We’re delighted to have realised a sale on their behalf which met their criteria and timeframe in what has been a challenging market for regional shopping centres. This is our third transaction with a local authority who are such an important partner and counterparty when delivering change across the UK.”