In July 2017 councillors approved the creation of a Property Investment Fund. In 2018 the council purchased first the North Worle District Centre and then entered an agreement with Legal and General to purchase the Sovereign Shopping Centre in Weston town centre.
"The amount of general funding we now receive from central government has diminished to the point that we have no choice but to explore new ways of generating income to ensure we can continue to deliver services to the local community," said Cllr Ash Cartman, the council's executive member for finance and performance.
"The North Worle District Centre is performing well and exceeding income expectations. In each of the last two financial years it has achieved a net surplus of over £600,000 against a forecast profit of £225,000 to £400,000.
"The Sovereign Centre also enjoyed a good first year for us last year, generating a net surplus of over £500,000 - only £15,000 below forecast. However, performance this year will undoubtedly be hit hard by the effects of the pandemic."
"Like every shopping centre across the country the Sovereign Centre has experienced a significant drop in footfall and revenue as a result of the period of lockdown," said Cllr Mark Canniford, executive member for business, economy and employment.
"We are working with tenants and businesses to develop a new business plan for the centre that will work in the post-covid world. This will sit alongside our ongoing work to regenerate the town centre.
"Centre manager Jon Walton is bringing forward lots of innovative ideas for making good use of the space there and we have been proud to give small local independent traders an opportunity to trade alongside the more established names in the centre. I would encourage you to pay the Weston Collective a visit if you haven’t already. They only opened in the centre a couple of weeks ago, but are already proving popular.
"The temporary outside seating area in the Italian Gardens is also providing new opportunities for the centre’s food outlets. Please continue to shop locally and support our local traders who have been hit hard during this pandemic."