Arch buys retail park in £36m deal

Westmorland Retail Park, Cramlington
Westmorland Retail Park, Cramlington

A second retail park in Cramlington has been bought by a development company in a multimillion-pound deal.

Northumberland County Council-owned Arch has bought Westmorland Retail Park from Hammerson plc for £36m.

The deal follows on from Arch purchasing the adjacent Manor Walks Shopping Centre in July for £78m – causing anger among opposition councillors.

The latest exchange of contracts means the company has now spent £114m on the two retail opportunities.

A spokesman for Arch said the deal supports hundreds of local jobs and allows them to invest to ‘enhance the retail experience for over 10m customers who visit the park yearly’.

The retail park has 13 units with occupiers including Marks and Spencer Simply Food, Costa, Maplin, TK Maxx, Next, Dunelm, Argos and Pets at Home.

Coun Dave Ledger, chairman of Arch, said: “The purchase of the retail park means Arch will continue to use investments to support and retain council services through repayments and dividends.

“The whole centre is a major economic asset for Northumberland which will help us achieve our economic ambitions for the county of supporting and creating jobs and boosting local economic growth.”

Coun Allan Hepple, cabinet member for economic development, said: “This is another significant investment which will benefit council taxpayers with a cold, hard cash return.

“With the investment, we’ve safeguarded more jobs and demonstrated another significant step in our Cramlington investment strategy.

“As Cramlington fast becomes the largest town in the county, we’ve already invested millions in Concordia, returned more council jobs in new investment in library and the purchase of Manor Walks has safeguarded hundreds of local jobs.

“We’re looking at investment in the rail station at Cramlington and continuing to support thousands of jobs on the industrial estates.”

He added: “These are ‘virtuous investments’ which see an excellent return for the taxpayer, support and maintain vital frontline services in the council and see local people in employment.”

This latest commercial property acquisition brings the value of Arch’s portfolio to more than £250m.