bolton debenhams moorgarth p

The overhaul includes a courtyard at first floor level. Credit: planning documents

Music, football lead Bolton Debenham’s revamp

Wren Architecture & Design has plotted a dramatic change of uses at the former department store site for owner Moorgarth.

In a change of use application filed with Bolton Council, Wren outlines plans for rooftop football pitches and a live music venue within the 118,000 sq ft Market Place unit.

The advisory team includes BJB Consulting on flood risk, Stantec on transport, Suono on noise, ARC Consulting Engineers on sustainability and Black Cat Building Surveyors on fire advice.

Wren said: “The application is necessary to regenerate the Centre as the large department store has been vacant for two years and there is no prospect of finding a new tenant to take over the whole unit.”

Moorgarth has owned the Market Place complex since 2013 and has already been active in repositioning its asset to a more leisure-focused destination: in 2016 part of the three upper levels of parking were converted to a cinema operated by The Light.

That £20m programme also included the opening up of the Market Place vaults in a food & drink-led programme, also designed by Wren.

The Debenhams store, vacant since May 2021, occupies three levels from basement up to first floor. This is topped by three levels of parking, the top deck being open-air.

The plans revealed in Wren’s DAS are for:

  • A 10,222 sq ft music venue in the basement, the other half of the basement being available for another leisure use
  • A 9,900 sq ft music school, along with other flexible units at first floor level
  • Open-air football pitches and padel courts at rooftop level, replacing 151 parking spaces – this will be partly offset by 20 new spaces on the lower levels, created by the removal of atrium lobbies.
  • The reshaping of the ground floor, which will remain as retail, being modernised into a space suitable for a single user.

As the ground floor will now be self-contained, the existing atrium will be closed off. At first floor level, this area will be remodelled as a courtyard and an extension to the existing mall, to provide a connection to St George’s Road, re-establishing a through-route long lost to shoppers.

The development should result in a more open-looking venue: according to Wren “the most impactful alteration to the external appearance of the building is to intervene behind the existing metal framed blank glazed screen at first floor on three elevations to create windows serving the new uses behind.

“The proposed elevations submitted clearly illustrate the areas to be opened up. In doing so, the building acquires a visual permeability and gives more purpose to the glazed screen with a sustainable solution, visually consistent with the rest of the building but enlivened.”

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Nice to see the use of local firms on this scheme. I question if any of the team have ever been to Bolton.


More like this needed, Bolton people should be using Bolton, not Manchester sitting on traffic

By Pnw

This will NOT increase footfall into Bolton town center, it’s retail that is urgently required. Need to more independent and enterprising stores as there are in other towns and cities ie Bury, Cambridge, Harrogate, Southport and many others. Bolton is a ghost town now and getting worse not better. Everyone thinks this . New ideas are required, certainly not football and music!

By Peter and Gillian

Great idea’s let’s get Bolton back on the map instead of our decaying town as it is at the moment

By Anonymous

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