Four bidders are in the final stages of buying Network Rail’s commercial estate, which is being sold to fund railway improvement works.
An estimated £1.8bn from the sale of around 5,000 properties, which is mainly made up of small businesses in converted railway arches, will be reinvested into the railway and help to fund the upgrade plan.
The property is being sold on a 150-year leasehold basis, and the rail operator will retain access rights.
Network Rail property managing director David Biggs said: “We are selling a thriving estate of small and independent businesses and we believe the portfolio is a highly attractive business with growth potential.
“We are proud that we have so many independent and diverse businesses thriving on our commercial estate, and for the tenants that run these it will be business as usual once the estate is sold. All lease arrangements will transfer to the new owner and all arrangements and protections will stay in place.
“We believe a new owner will bring more investment to the commercial estate, benefiting tenants and local communities, and creating jobs and stimulating economic growth.
“The sale is completely unconnected with periodic rent reviews which are part of our normal business activity. Our rents are based on local property market values with the vast majority of reviews, around 85%, agreed at an increase of 10% or less.”
The commercial estate is made up of around 7,500 properties including 4,455 converted arch spaces. Around 5,500 are being sold, except for property in Scotland or those that support the running of the railway.
Network Rail expects the new owner to invest in maintaining and enhancing the estate, it said.
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