A VET hospital more than 120 miles away has become the latest project South Somerset District Council has splashed millions of pounds on as part of their ever expanding portfolio.

The latest buy, which set SSDC back around £5.95million, takes the authority’s recent commercial expenditure to around £60million over the latest couple of years.

The Ralph is a veterinary referral hospital, situated in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and is named in memory of the rescue cat cared for by founder Shailen Jasani.

The hospital opened its doors to the public in February 2019 and it is the only one of its kind located between the M4 and the M40 motorways.

The 25,550 square foot property began life as a hybrid office and industrial building in 1989 and was occupied by Emerson Network Power. The Ralph then took the lease and spent £3.2M on fitting the site out to a high standard.

The Ralph’s occupation will provide a guaranteed income stream for at least 14 years.

Cllr John Clark, SSDC’s commercial portfolio holder, said: “The security of income at The Ralph is key and it joins a strong portfolio designed to achieve the commercial strategy of generating income to continue the provision of public services.

“We are pleased to report we are continuing to meet our ambitious commercial targets.”

The aim of the strategy is to invest in a diverse range of assets and generate income which will mitigate a significant reduction in central Government funding.

This latest investment takes the council’s commercial spending to £59.345million.

It is the 12th asset purchased, with other properties including GoCompare’s Newport HQ, a business unit near Bournemouth, and an office block in Milton Keynes.

There have also been investments closer to home, in in Yeovil, Taunton, Glastonbury and Bridgwater.

The most expensive investment so far was a battery storage facility near Taunton, which cost £9.84m.

SSDC set aside £75million for the investment strategy, which was created to fund regeneration projects and other public services.