Northern Quarter bid boosted as firm buys prime site

PURCHASED Sports Direct and Mothercare in the north of Commercial Road. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (133478-3)
PURCHASED Sports Direct and Mothercare in the north of Commercial Road. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (133478-3)
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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PLANS for the Northern Quarter have been given another boost after a company paid £7.2m for a building in Commercial Road.

Schroder Real Estate Investment Trust completed the deal for the properties because of its interest in the project to redevelop the former Tricorn Centre.

The building housing Sports Direct, Mothercare, Tui and Gold Centre has been bought, although the shops’ leases remain.

As reported, Centros – developer behind the multimillion pound shops and homes scheme in Portsmouth’s Northern Quarter – has said there is now enough demand for the project to go ahead.

That has been backed up by Schroder’s move to snap up land on the proposed redevelopment.

Nick Montgomery, head of UK investment at Schroder, said: ‘We bought the properties hoping that, having invested, the Northern Quarter would move forward. We are supportive of Centros and Portsmouth City Council and we look forward to the plans starting.

‘We see it as a massive improvement for Portsmouth and that end of Commercial Road.’

Stephen Baily, the council’s head of city development, said: ‘This is great news.

‘It shows confidence in Portsmouth and confirms it’s an attractive destination for business investment, which is the message we’re giving to major investors.’

The council and Centros have made plans to regenerate the old Tricorn centre site into a shopping centre complete with 50 to 60 shops.

Developers also hope to build cafes and restaurants, two blocks of flats, a hotel and a cinema, with the project due to be finished by 2018.

It was the extent of this development that made the proposal attractive to Schroder.

Duncan Owen, head of property, said: ‘The company has had a very low weighting to the retail sector which has been to its benefit over the last few years.

‘As the economy begins to show signs of a more sustained recovery, tactical additional exposure to the retail market is now forming part of our strategy.’

The plans for the Northern Quarter had been up in the air and were originally shelved in 2008.

But, after consultations and feedback from the public, developments are scheduled to be completed by 2018.