A LARGE empty shop in the centre of Boscombe has been bought by the owner of the neighbouring Sovereign Shopping Centre.

NewRiver Retail has bought the former TJ Hughes, a 45,000 square foot site which has been vacant since the shopping chain went into administration in 2011.

The new owner is planning a major redevelopment for the combined site as part of a strategy to “improve and reposition” the centre.

It said it was hoping to announce a new anchor store and other tenants soon.

Stuart Mitchell, associate director at NewRiver Retail and asset manager for the Sovereign Centre, said: “Contrary to popular belief, until now the TJ Hughes store was not under NewRiver Retail’s ownership, which prevented us from gaining the control needed to unlock the potential for the Sovereign Centre.

“When the owner of the store went into administration earlier this year, we moved quickly to enable the acquisition.

“With ownership of the whole site, we are delighted to be able to progress our significant redevelopment plan.”

NewRiver says its plans include a “greatly enhanced retail and leisure offer”.

It said it was in discussion with national retail and leisure operators over the redevelopment.

Cllr Jane Kelly, cabinet member for partnerships and regeneration at Bournemouth council, said: “This acquisition should be seen as a milestone in the regeneration of Boscombe and will be a real boost for the precinct and we’re happy to be supporting NewRiver Retail with this major project.” NewRiver Retail completed a comparable redevelopment in Wallsend, North Tyneside, earlier this year, working with North Tyneside Council.

It acquired a vacant Co-Op in the Forum Shopping Centre and spent £5m turning it into a 50,000sqft library and community centre, with new space for Iceland, 99p Stores and Home Bargains.