Moorfield Real Estate Fund has bought the £84.5m Cornmill shopping centre in Darlington from Investream

The sale of the 221,066 sq ft (20,616 sq m) centre completed in the last and strongest quarter of 2006, when turnover reached £2.6bn, concluding another strong year of shopping centre investment but one that did not match the number of sales of 2005.

However, for the entire year, shopping centre transactions dropped by £2bn on the previous year. Total turnover for the year was around £7bn - below 2005's total of £8.9bn.

Nevertheless, 2006 was still well above the 10-year annual average of £4.1bn.

Nick Hart, head of shopping centre investment, said: ‘Savills predicts 2007 will continue in the vein of 2006 with strong demand for shopping centre assets.

'Yields have fallen to historic lows, however, we predict that strong bidding will continue at the prime end, albeit with fewer parties bidding. There could be pressure on some of the more secondary assets where aggressive prices have been paid.'

The average size of each shopping centre sale in 2006 was up on 2005 at £68m.

The £84.5m price paid for Cornmill reflects an initial yield of 5.25% and a 5.65% equivalent yield.

Moorfield bought the Cornmill through its £1.1bn Moorfield Real Estate Fund, which comprises the Ridings shopping centre in Wakefield, the Capitol shopping centre in Cardiff; a portfolio of WA Shearings hotels and student accommodation sites in Loughborough and Winchester.

DTZ acted for Moorfield Real Estate Fund; Savills acted for Investream.