LGP's leisure fund acquires Aldershot development scheme and completes £42-mln. equity raise (UK)

Legal & General Property (LGP) announces that it has agreed to forward fund The Westgate leisure development in Aldershot with Citygrove Securities Plc and Rushmoor Borough Council for £51 million (approx. €58.4 million) on behalf of its Leisure Fund. LGP has also completed a £42 million equity raise from existing investors and taken the opportunity to extend the life span of the Fund to 2020, from 2014.


The scheme is due to be completed for autumn 2012.

On completion, The Westgate will provide a vibrant 170,000-ft² (approx. 15,800-m²) leisure and retail destination complex in Aldershot town center. The 9-acre island site is located within a three-minute walk from Aldershot's retail core, via the pedestrianized Upper Union Street. The scheme successfully gained planning consent from Rushmoor Borough Council in May 2010 with construction due to commence in April 2011. On completion, which is targeted for autumn 2012, the scheme will not only provide the town with its first leisure offer, but support its much needed regeneration.

Built on the site of a former 1960s car park and retaining the existing police station, the scheme will be constructed on a deck platform so as to provide a 500-space car park at lower ground level. Arranged around an open-air piazza, it will be anchored by a seven-screen multiplex Cineworld and a Morrisons supermarket, as well as providing eight restaurant units and a 91-bed Travelodge hotel. Currently 95% pre-let, the restaurant operators include Frankie & Benny's, Pizza Express, Prezzo, Harvester, Subway and The Real China. The scheme has a high average lease length of 20 years until first break, with the added strength of 81% of the income being subject to fixed or RPI linked uplifts at review.

Consistent with other LGP developments, The Westgate will embrace energy efficiency, with 10% of the scheme's energy being provided from renewable or low carbon sources and its development philosophy centered on waste reduction and recycling.

The deal marks the eighth acquisition for the Leisure Fund, which already has ca. £230 million of assets under management. Currently rated the fifth highest performing fund within the IPD specialist pooled property funds index, the Fund has consistently delivered top quartile performance over one, three and five years since launch against the IPD Pooled Property Fund Index and outperformed the IPD Leisure Fund benchmark to December 2010 by 1.6% pa over three years and 1.2% pa over five years (ungeared).

With a major development platform and specialist in-house leisure and retail capabilities, LGP has a strong track record of expertise in creating significant town-center retail or leisure-led regeneration projects, including Bracknell, Northampton and Eastbourne.

Commenting on the acquisition of The Westgate Centre, Andrew Ferguson, Fund Manager of the Leisure Fund, comments: "The Westgate represents a good opportunity to acquire a prime town center leisure development scheme that will provide the long awaited catalyst for Aldershot's regeneration. The town is currently home to approximately 33,000 people, including a large military contingent, but with no curre

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