Council declares investment in major High Street site


Weston-super-Mare’s premium Sovereign Shopping Centre opens its doors under new ownership today as North Somerset Council announces the purchase of the major high street site in partnership with major national investor Legal and General. Buying the centre is part of the council’s exciting new commercial investment strategy, and is set to generate an income of £1m a year which will be put back into vital local public services.

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.”

This is the second purchase the council has made since councillors approved the creation of a Property Investment Fund in July last year. The first was the £38m North Worle District Centre earlier this year.

Whereas not traditional local government business, more and more councils across the country are ‘stepping in’ to support retail trade and shape future operations within their town centres and discover alternative ways to fund council services. The aim of the Property Investment Fund is to purchase sites where a long-term investment can be made, and the rewards ploughed back into vital public services.

Pete Gladwell, Head of Public Sector Partnerships at Legal & General, said: “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 Pasley added: “We have imaginative rejuvenation plans for the Sovereign Centre that will look to turn the spacious venue into a modern, multi-use space with retail at its heart that will attract residents, businesses and tourists alike.”

The purchase of the Sovereign Centre supports the council’s vision for local growth and regeneration in Weston-super-Mare’s town centre. The major expansion and development of Weston College, the construction of Dolphin Square leisure complex, significant improvements to the seafront, creation of the Italian Gardens – coupled with planned housing growth and further business development will continue to impact positively on the local economy and life choices of residents and visitors alike making Weston an even better place to live and work. For more information on the regeneration of Weston-super-Mare visit www.n-somerset.gov.uk/westonvision.