Council approves plan to repurpose Sovereign Centre
- Credit: Archant
North Somerset Council has today (Thursday) approved a business plan to repurpose Weston's Sovereign Shopping Centre.
The council's executive approved the plan for the Sovereign Centre and the commissioning plan for the appointment of consultants and contractors to undertake works to convert vacant retail space into new mixed-use space.
The appointment of an operator to manage the space was also agreed by executive members. Any change in name to the Sovereign Centre will be subject to an engagement and consultation exercise.
The first phase of work will create work space on the ground floor, a bike hub to hire and repair bikes and work on the roof’s electrical structure in order to host rooftop events.
It will be funded by the £1.765milion Getting Building Fund awarded to the council in 2020 from the West of England Combined Authority.
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Any subsequent phases will be funded by a £65,000 grant from the Department of Transport Access Grant.
Speaking at the meeting, councillor Robert Payne said: “It’s pretty obvious which way town centres are going and the pandemic has moved these along, we do need to adapt and change things.
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“There is still a role for retailing in town centre’s but it has to be more focused on smaller, independent traders with smaller units.
“Weston has a significant advantage over other towns as those that rely solely on retail will suffer the most.
"We still have millions of visitors coming to the seafront each year and it’s becoming more important for High Street to become better connected to the seafront and the Sovereign Centre could be key in doing that.”
The business plan sets out the challenges, opportunities and a new vision for the shopping centre.
As part of the plan, it is proposed that some of the vacant retail space will be converted to repurpose the centre’s use in order to diversify away from pure retail use.
This new space in the town centre will help attract small and micro businesses and bring customers to local restaurants and cafés.
The evening economy will improve as businesses and visitors come to the town centre for its cultural and arts attractions.
New cycleways and storage facilities will support people to adopt green forms of transport and encourage more casual visits to the town centre and seaside.
The plan also identifies capital works to make seasonal use of the roof top car park, enhance the entrances, signs and lighting as well as looking at future energy efficiency measures of the building.
For more reaction, pick up a copy of next week's Mercury.