EHDC boosts property portfolio by buying Alton store

East Hampshire District Council has bought an Iceland store in Alton as it further improves its investment portfolio.

The supermarket, on the High Street, is the council’s sixth property purchase since 2013 as part of a plan to increase its annual income.

With interest rates remaining low and cash investments offering a poor return East Hampshire District Council has turned to buying high-value commercial properties in order to recoup rent.

East Hampshire District Council paid £1.63m for the store, formerly Woolworths.

The previous five properties bought since 2013 include Barclays Bank, in Petersfield; the Co-Op, in Four Marks; the services on the A3 at Liphook; Sheridan House, in Winchester, and New Barn in Petersfield.

These properties generate more than £850,000 in rent every year, around £700,000 more than could be gained through interest on cash savings.

The supermarket chain has been rejuvenated since being bought back by founder Malcolm Walker in 2012 and the store will provide a secure revenue stream for the local authority.

Cllr Richard Millard, EHDC Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Contracts, said: “Investing in property brings better returns for our money than keeping it in the bank.

“As Government grants continue to dwindle councils must find new forms of income. Investing in prime commercial properties in good locations generates valuable rental income for us. This money is ploughed back into keeping council service standards high and keeping residents’ Council Tax low.

“The Iceland store in Alton is a fantastic, town centre property, with an excellent tenant and was the right price.”