Centre boss backs the call for better shops

THE manager of the biggest shopping centre in Weston says he will lead the way in bringing in the big-name shops the town needs

THE manager of the biggest shopping centre in Weston says he will lead the way in bringing in the big-name shops the town needs.Experts say Weston needs a much bigger shopping centre to satisfy the town's growing population - and the Sovereign Shopping Centre says it is ready to start giving people what they want.In a report commissioned by North Somerset Council, specialists say another 48,000sq metres of shopping floor space is needed in Weston by 2021. The Sovereign Shopping Centre currently has 12,050sq metres.Centre manager Nick Cooke says he has been waiting to expand for years and is only too willing to work with the council to turn Weston into the shopping centre it should be and stop people driving to Bristol to get their retail fix. He wants to extend the centre into the Town Square, next to the Italian Gardens, and use it for a big name department store, such as Debenhams, and other top retailers.He said: "The Town Square is prime spot for development, and it has little historical value, as not that long ago it was just tarmac."We have ambitions to expand the Sovereign Shopping Centre and give people what they want and we want to work with the council to achieve it."The professionals have spoken. They have said in a report the council commissioned itself that we need more shops, and the Sovereign centre is willing to lead the way."In the report, called the North Somerset Retail and Leisure Study, it says Weston needs to attract new retail development to ensure it keeps pace with competition from other town centres.North Somerset councillor John Crockford-Hawley, executive member for strategic planning and transport, said: "The council will continue to work with landowners and developers in order to meet the forecast retail demand, ensuring that Weston town centre provides a wide range of shops and services to meet the needs of the existing and future population."* What do think? Should the Sovereign Shopping Centre expand and do we need more shops? Write to us at the Weston & Somerset Mercury, 32 Waterloo Street, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 1LW or e-mail: newsdesk@thewestonmercury.co.uk

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