Retailers approached for Sovereign Centre with upgrades being designed

Weston's Sovereign Centre.

Weston's Sovereign Centre. - Credit: Archant

Negotiations to fill all the vacant units at Weston-super-Mare’s Sovereign Shopping Centre are underway, and designs to upgrade the building are in development, says North Somerset Council.

The authority finalised a deal to buy the retail complex in August, with hopes of making profits of £1million per year – but the deal garnered much criticism amid a struggling retail market.

A fifth of the units at the Sovereign Centre are gathering dust as businesses continue to struggle to make ends meet, but the council has revealed it is working to lure traders to Weston and give the town centre a much-needed boost.

It remains to be seen what type of businesses have been approached or whether the discussions will materialise in new tenancies.

The council has also revealed ‘physical changes’ to the centre are being planned, and these could be introduced ‘in the next two to three years’.

Previous owners of the building had plans to expand the centre into Victoria Square and the Italian Gardens, but these proposals never happened.

The Mercury did ask the council if it has plans to incorporate housing in future developments, but it failed to provide an answer.

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The council inked a deal with Legal & General to lease the building for 35 years before buying it for £1.

The authority is reinvesting revenue ‘into vital local services’ – although the deal has been criticised by finance experts.

A council spokesman said: ‘investing in the Sovereign Centre provides a tremendous opportunity to shape and lead the regeneration of Weston as it continues to grow and change’.

They said: “The Sovereign Shoping Centre has been performing well, generating vital income to support the delivery of services across North Somerset.

“With 80 per cent of the units let, and with terms being discussed for the remaining seven vacant units, the centre continues to play an integral role in the town centre.

“The council is very aware town centres are vital social hubs for customers and as such, is developing ideas to improve the centre to ensure it can thrive. The investment required needs to respond to changing customer expectations for town centres who expect more of a social experience.

“A better Sovereign Shopping Centre will mean a better Weston town centre and we’re working with our managing agents to prepare plans to improve the centre, including physical changes which could be introduced in the next two or three years.”