Havant Borough Council has purchased the Meridian Shopping Centre and the Bulbeck Road Car Park as part of its proactive approach to successfully regenerate the area.
The council has developed an ambitious regeneration strategy and it is taking the lead to transform the borough with much-needed homes, jobs and facilities for residents.
The purchase of the shopping centre demonstrates the council’s total commitment and leadership to ensure the area is transformed to meet the changing needs of its residents, businesses and visitors.
Its hands-on approach is already underway as it has secured £3.4million to redevelop its car park at the Public Service Plaza.
The Meridian Shopping Centre is at the very heart of the town and will be a catalyst to secure private and public sector investment.
Councillor Michael Wilson, Leader of Havant Borough Council, described the purchase as a clear commitment to delivering huge transformational change in the area.
He said: "The purchase of the Meridian Centre is fundamental in the regeneration and transformation of Havant town centre. It means we now have control of a major strategic site that is critical to delivering the town centre regeneration plan.
"We are now focusing on ways to regenerate the area for the long-term benefit of the town centre and our residents across the borough.
"There will be no changes in the day-to-day operation and running of the shopping centre in the immediate future, to ensure it continues to operate smoothly for tenants and shoppers.
"However, we will be looking at how it can evolve to meet future needs over the coming months.
"Extensive due diligence checks have been carried out before we bought the centre to ensure the purchase price reflects current market conditions and represents fair market value.
"The regeneration of the Meridian Centre will form part of the council’s wider, longer-term plans to improve the town for the benefit of everyone who lives, works or visits the area."
Cllr Wilson added: "We have listened to the views of local businesses and residents about the town centre and we are taking action. When we launched the regeneration strategy, we said we would move quickly to make things happen and making this strategic investment shows that’s exactly what we’re doing.
"This purchase will also be a catalyst for further investment from the public and private sector.
"We have made this commercial investment because owning the centre gives us the opportunity to influence and lead our town’s regeneration."
Havant Borough Council bought the centre for £4.1m and Full Council gave approval for the purchase in March and Cabinet verified the purchase on 18 December. The transaction was finalised following the completion of extensive ‘due diligence’ checks.
Property management company Montagu Evans will run the centre, which contains 35 retail units which are a mix of local and national retailers and 380 car parking spaces covering more than 121,441sqft arranged over two levels.
The purchase has been funded from the Public Works Loans Board.
The regeneration of Havant town centre kickstarts the council’s regeneration strategy that also includes other key sites across the borough including Waterlooville town centre, Leigh Park centre and Hayling Island seafront.
For a period of up to eight weeks, the car parks at the Meridian Shopping Centre and Bulbeck Road will be FREE to use, providing a boost to the local Christmas economy and into January.
The car parks will then be run as council car parks and charged accordingly.
For the first time, blue badge holders will be able to now park for FREE at both sites, providing easy access to the heart of Havant.