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Nailsea shopping centre
SOLD for £11.5 million
Property investor Praxis has bought Nailsea shopping centre for a reported £11.5 million.
The deal to add Crown Glass Shopping Centre to its portfolio was completed early last week.
Praxis also bought in January The Forum Shopping Centre at Sittingbourne for £7m bringing the total number of shopping centre sites owned to 11.
Other recent acquisitions include:
Blaydon Shopping Centre near Newcastle for £30 million
Crossgates Shopping Centre in Leeds for £30 million
St John’s Shopping Centre, Preston for £7 million
Westmorland Shopping Centre, Kendal for £7.1 million
Salford Shopping City for £40 million
Plymstock Broadway Shopping Centre – no price listed
Forum Shopping Centre, Sittingbourne for £30 million
Castle Dene Shopping Centre, Peterlee
Craven Court Shopping Centre, Skipton for £5.4
With an investment fund of more than £250 million it has had a pattern of buying shopping centres plus office buildings across the UK since 2016.
It is said to have acquired £1 billion of UK commercial property and development land including the shopping centres.
We are told the multi-million pound deal for Crown Glass Shopping Centre, which has been in the offing for nearly a year, was completed on Tuesday afternoon, January 21.
One of the first casualties of the takeover was former centre manager Martin Nelmes who had been in situ for more than two years. He learned in the run-up to Christmas his services would no longer be required.
Martin was employed by global commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE which took over from Ellandi all under the auspices of Nailsea Unit Trust to manage the centre.
He left the job on Friday, January 24.
The new centre manager is Mark Berry who will also be in charge of Plymstock.
His LinkedIn profile says: "A charismatic leader with a measurable history of delivering quality results within military logistics, retail management and now facilities management."
Mark has already reassured town councillors that there are no plans to introduce car parking charges unlike the ones due to be introduced in Clevedon Road.
Nailsea People has been told that all existing contracts for cleaning, security and PR are now void.
Crown Glass Shopping Centre consists of approximately 90,000 sq ft of shops and 190 free car parking spaces.
It doesn’t own the old health centre or library.
With national multiples such as Waitrose, Boots, WH Smith and New Look and a few independent businesses such as Burchills fruit and veg and a major refurbishment of Colliers Walk last year it was probably looking the best it has been for a decade.
Innovations in the past ten years to attract shoppers include re-branding signage and a new playground, introducing mascot Honeysuckle the giant bumblebee, school holidays Wacky Wednesday activities, monthly farmers’ market and craft fairs, annual Christmas light switch-on which not only raised money for charity but in part went towards off setting service charges for tenants, Ping Pong parlour, investment in larger retail units, ground floor management office, conversion of unused offices into apartments and steam blasting the old stone facias.
But the biggest failure has been the failure to convince Nailsea that the
best place to build a new Lidl was the shoppers car park shared with
patients using Tower House medical centre and pharmacy.
There has also been some rapid opening and closing of businesses some due to a Win A Shop For Free competition, the demise of arts and craft centre at The Blue Room and the challenges of Amazon and other online home delivery services.
Praxis managing director Gary Roberts has been quoted saying: “We are alert to the troubles that retailers are facing, not least that occupational costs need to come down for them to be viable operations.
“Rents are falling, and so are valuations, so the challenge for us is to anticipate how large and fast the decline will be and buy in at a re-based level such that further capital investment, aimed at enhancing the consumer experience, makes economic sense.”
Mr Roberts said many existing landlords with inflated legacy book costs are not able to justify such investment and this results in a sort of entropy.
He added: “First inertia, then reactive and restricted investment aimed at arresting the fall, and then terminal decline.
“The retail recovery is only going to happen once there is universal acceptance that the market has fundamentally, and irrevocably changed - we are in a new era of lower rents, and lower values.”
The shopping precinct in the town centre was built as part of Somerset County Council 1950s development plan and passed to Avon County Council in the local government reorganisation of 1974.
It was a cash-strapped Avon who sold the precinct in the late 1980s although it did offer Nailsea Town Council the opportunity to buy for £1 million!
Since then it has been owned by a succession of pension funds and property investors in the UK and abroad who mostly appointed corporate management companies to deal with the day-to-day running of the ‘business’.
Nailsea Town Council chairman Jan Barber said: "We are looking forward to working with the new owners of the town centre to improve the facilities on offer and the range of retail available.
"Hopefully we shall be able to continue the good relationship we have enjoyed with previous owners and we shall look forward to meeting everyone."
Nailsea CCTV electricity bill paid in duplicate
Nailsea Town Council had a shock light bulb moment when it found out that for the past seven years it had been paying a CCTV electricity bill unnecessarily.
The reason: North Somerset Council has also being paying the same bill for the High Street cameras.
The mistake was revealed during a CCTV review.
Nailsea Town Council has 12 cameras dotted at locations across the town centre.
And since 2013 it has been paying the electricity costs for the cameras at a cost of approximately £1,200 plus a quarter.
But when North Somerset Council accounts department sent the town council a bill for the electricity costs for running the same cameras, questions were finally asked.
Investigations by town clerk Jo Duffy revealed the error.
It is not known how long both authorities had been footing the same bill but as Nailsea Town Council upgraded its cameras in 2013 it is possible the double payments date back until then.
Mrs Duffy has contacted Western Power Distriution to request a refund.
Unfortunately, under regulator rules, the town council can only claim back the past 14 months of over payments.
National Grid diggers find old stone seam
Fears that the large stones uncovered by National Grid while excavating on the outskirts of Nailsea will be ground down for road rubble have angered Nailsea people.
Contractors have hit a flat stone seam while working on Watery Lane.
In the past North Somerset house builders have used this natural resource which is now a scarce commodity.
Stone mason Fiona Parker said: "National Grid is very likely to crush the rubble for the roads or landfill,
"I have spoken to NG but they don’t know what’s happening with it.
"It is very hard these days to source - it's like gold dust.
"The foundations of the old Glasswork ended up on garden rockeries and it would be awful if this is allowed to be wasted again.
"People don’t realise what it is, they think it is just mounds of mud."
Fiona has alerted North Somerset MP Liam Fox for support.
National Grid started work to install underground cables between Nailsea and Portishead substations at the beginning of January.
And in 18 months they could start taking down the pylons closest to our homes.
The road signs are to direct construction site traffic through the town.
The cables are part of National Grid’s Hinkley Connection Project which, once complete, will connect new sources of low carbon energy, such as Hinkley Point C, to homes and businesses.
National Grid’s contractors on the underground cable, J Murphy & Sons Ltd, have begun building temporary entrances and access roads, developing access routes, and installing secure fencing around the whole of the construction area.
The first stage of work began on Tuesday, January 7, building temporary road entrances to the construction areas from Engine Lane and Hanham Way/Watery Lane in the west end of Nailsea.
Temporary day time traffic lights on Engine Lane and Hanham Way, is diverting pedestrian access towards the lower end of Hanham Way and Watery Lane.
Once the access roads are completed and the construction area is fenced and secure, work will begin on excavating trenches to construct ducts and joint bays for the cables and installation and connection of the cables.
The nature of the trenching and cable laying process means that residents will in some areas see intense periods of activity, along with quieter phases, but access will remain controlled throughout the construction period.
National Grid expects to complete the work by autumn 2021.
Once the cables are in place and operational, the next step is to start to take down existing pylons and prepare to build new T-Pylons to the west of Nailsea.
This work will be undertaken by Balfour Beatty.
Details of the T-Pylon construction programme are being finalised and will be available soon.
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