Council strikes £6m deal to build offices by the motorway

The Knightstone Housing offices.

The Knightstone Housing offices. - Credit: Archant

North Somerset Council will spend £6million to buy land in Weston-super-Mare and build office space – with a business already lined up to lease it.

The Super Mare Pub at the Weston Gateway enterprise area. Picture sent in to iwitness24 by Sally Gri

The Super Mare Pub at the Weston Gateway enterprise area. Picture sent in to iwitness24 by Sally Griffiths. - Credit: Archant

Knightstone Housing’s headquarters and The Super Mare pub have already been built at Weston Gateway Business Park, along the A370 near the motorway junction.

The council agreed to take on a 15-year lease for Enterprise House, 16,300sq.ft of office space, at the business park in 2015.

However, Dowlas, which is responsible for the construction of the enterprise area, was not able to find a firm willing to lease the building, and the project stalled.

A technology business called Costain, based in Yatton, said it is now interested in moving to Enterprise House.

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The council agreed at its meeting on Tuesday to buy the land, and ask Dowlas to build the offices. The council will receive the rental income from Costain.

MORE: Growing business park is a Gateway to Weston’s future.

Council leader Nigel Ashton said: “This is part of the regeneration programme.

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“We have been looking at this site at Junction 21 for many years to get it developed, but there has been no money to develop it so it has stalled.”

Cllr Ashton said the land has not been bought for an inflated price and he believes Costain to be ‘fully committed’ to Enterprise House.

The move would bring 120 jobs to Weston, and the business is expected to expand to 350 staff members over the next three to four years.

Council papers say safeguarding 160 jobs in the manufacturing sector would benefit the region’s economy to the tune of £19.2million, rising to £42million with 350 jobs.

The council says it will aim to keep the costs below £6million, but admits there is a risk of going over budget.

It says securing a fixed-price build contract from Dowlas and the pre-let lease from Costain will mitigate the risk.

Council papers say: “A secondary risk is Costain may vacate the property at the end of the fifth year.

“This risk will be mitigated by the fact there has been an upturn in the number of enquiries received by the council for accommodation in the enterprise area and it is considered the nature of the proposed property will make any re-occupation relatively straightforward.”

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