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Former Debenhams store in Leicester to be converted into flats

Camilla Rydzek
27 January 2022

The Debenhams department store in Leicester's Highcross Shopping Centre is to be redeveloped into 305 flats.

Leicester City Council worked with Highcross owner Hammerson on the scheme and has now approved plans to replace the former store and part of the adjacent car park into new homes.

The space had been unoccupied since Debenhams went into administration in March 2020

A second planning application was also submitted asking permissions to create four smaller stores on the upper and lower ground floor of the building. This is still waiting for approval.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the new development will feature 10 studio flats, 172 one-bed flats, 107 two-bed flats and 16 three-bed flats, with the highest part of the building reaching 12 storeys.

Planning officers who considered the scheme said it was unlikely the space would be quickly brought back into use as a department store.

They said: "If the former Debenhams store unit was to be left vacant in the hope that a suitable occupier would come forward, a long-term, large, vacant unit could harm the vitality and viability of the city centre.

"Instead, the proposed demolition and new residential and commercial development would secure investment and regeneration in the surrounding area, whilst contributing to the city's overall housing need."

The entire Debenhams chain was liquidated at the start of 2021 and all stores were closed, with online retail group Boohoo buying the brand name and e-commerce business only. Boohoo recently opened one Debenhams store in Manchester dedicated to beauty in a move to enable it to continue to sell key beauty brands online (certain beauty brands will only allow stockists that have a physical retail presence).

Other former Debenhams stores have also been approved for redevelopment. The former Debenhams store in Glasgow's St. Enoch Centre is to be transformed into offices, leisure space and a rooftop garden, while a former store in the centre of Leeds is to be transformed into a student-led, mixed use scheme with 124 studio apartments as well as prime retail space. The former Debenhams store in Beverley meanwhile has been taken over by homewares retailer Dunelm.

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