Cambridgeshire County Council buys the lease of Wisbech cinema and three restaurants in £6.5m deal - and here's why they did it

PUBLISHED: 10:32 14 June 2019

Cromwell Road Leisure Park is located on the south side of Wisbech on the B198 and a short distance from the junction with the A47. The park is anchored by a 97,000 sq ft Tesco Extra store but that is not included in the leasehold acquisition by Cambridgeshire County Council. For £6.5m they get a 250 year lease of The Light cinema, Frankie & Benny's and Prezzo. Picture: PRIME LOCATION

Cromwell Road Leisure Park is located on the south side of Wisbech on the B198 and a short distance from the junction with the A47. The park is anchored by a 97,000 sq ft Tesco Extra store but that is not included in the leasehold acquisition by Cambridgeshire County Council. For £6.5m they get a 250 year lease of The Light cinema, Frankie & Benny's and Prezzo. Picture: PRIME LOCATION

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Council taxpayers shelled out six and a half million pounds last month to become the new landlord of the Light Cinema, Wisbech and three restaurant units.

Cambridgeshire County Council only revealed the purchase when it published its annual accounts for 2018/19.

The council says that on May 24 it "acquired Cromwell Leisure Park in Wisbech for £6.58m as its second commercial investment property."

Tesco opened their store in Cromwell Road five years ago after switching from a smaller store across the road - that is now a retail park.

County council taxpayers will also own the freehold to three restaurants on the same site - although only two are occupied at the moment, Prezzo and Frankie & Benny's.

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A third restaurant - with nearly 3,000 square feet of seating space - was formerly home to Giraffe. The restaurant chain, acquired by Tesco for nearly £50m, closed many of its outlets, including Wisbech, in recent years.

Last year the county council acquired Brunswick House in Cambridge for £38m as part of its long term investment strategy.

The property has 252 student flats on Newmarket Road and is expected to generate an annual return of £1.9m.

The council accounts show that since acquiring it last July it has achieved income of £1.3m

The report says the council's plan is to "diversify and increase income streams, protecting frontline services notwithstanding reducing government grant and rising

demand".

The council says Cambridge has a significant undersupply of purpose built student accommodation with 44 per cent of students unable to access it.

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