Network Rail has agreed terms with Telereal Trillium and Blackstone Property Partners for the sale of its commercial estate portfolio, with close to 500 assets in the region traded.
The commercial estate sale was launched in November last year as the rail infrastructure body sought to put in place funding for the current national railway upgrade plan.
In total, 625 assets within the North West were listed, 432 of them railway arches, with the remainder including buildings, land, car parks and easements. Of these, 470 assets were sold as part of the deal and 155 excluded.
Place North West understands that some of the organisation’s Manchester holdings have not been included in the sale due to upcoming developments in the Piccadilly area.
Telereal and Blackstone will hold equal ownership stakes and said that they intend to be long-term owners of the estate, declaring that they have adopted a ‘tenants first’ approach, cemented in a tenants’ charter, which offers a commitment to engage with all tenants and communities in an open and honest manner.
Telereal will oversee the day-to-day property management of the portfolio.
The portfolio comprises around 5,200 properties, the majority of which are converted railway arches. The sites are being sold on a leasehold basis, with Network Rail retaining access rights for the future operation and maintenance of the railway.
Sir Peter Hendy, Network Rail chairman, said: “This has been a very thorough, detailed and complex process and we are pleased we’re now in a position to announce Telereal Trillium and Blackstone Property Partners as the new owners of the commercial estate.
“This deal is great news – for tenants it will mean significant commitment and investment, and for passengers and taxpayers it will mean massive, essential improvements without an extra burden on the public purse.”
David Biggs, managing director of Network Rail Property, said: “We are proud to have fostered so many small, independent, diverse businesses and communities across the country and we are confident that these will continue to thrive under the new owners.
“Ultimately our role is to run, improve and grow the railway, and managing these properties isn’t essential to that. The new owners will invest in and grow the estate, and we can focus on our core business of running the railway.”
Graham Edwards, co-founder and chairman of Telereal, said: “The arches portfolio is a unique and vital part of the UK economy. We are tremendously excited by the prospect of working with its entrepreneurial tenant base – made up of car mechanics, bakeries, micro-breweries, restaurants, and just about every type of business you can think of. These tenants are a vibrant part of many local economies and communities.”