Debenhams Liverpool 2, P.PNW
The store closed in May along with 123 others nationally. Credit: Place North West

Grosvenor gets ball rolling on Liverpool Debenhams revamp 

Dan Whelan

Liverpool One’s landlord wants to convert part of the vacant 185,000 sq ft department store into leisure space, which could feature a go-kart track. 

Grosvenor has requested permission from Liverpool City Council to repurpose half of the retail space to provide an 80,000 sq ft home for an unnamed leisure operator. 

The landlord is working with design practice The Studio and planning consultant Avison Young to develop the proposals for the former department store, located on the corner of Lord Street and South John Street. 

While the retail and leisure operators for the Debenhams building have not yet been named, “there has been interest from a leisure operator that may include an element of a go-kart use”, according to Avison Young. 

A similar approach is being taken at Wandsworth’s Southside shopping centre, where landlords Investec and Landsec have converted the store into an indoor amusement venue.

The attraction, which features go-karting, bowling and street golf, is being operated by Gravity Active Entertainment.

In Liverpool, the lower and upper ground floors of the former Debenhams store will be retained for retail use and will use the existing entrances. The first and second floors will be used for leisure and will be accessed from Chavasse Park. 

A spokesperson from Grosvenor said: “No decisions have been taken at the moment regarding the future use of Debenhams. We are exploring a variety of uses for the former Debenhams store, including leisure.” 

Along with John Lewis, Debenhams had been one of Liverpool One’s anchor tenants since the shopping centre opened in 2008. Debenhams closed its Liverpool store in May along with 123 others nationally.  

The collapse of the retailer, a stalwart of the high street for more than 100 years, saw the loss of around 12,000 jobs. 

Online retailer Boohoo bought the Debenhams brand and website for £55m in January. 

Elsewhere, other Debenhams stores are being given new leases of life. In Bury, The Range has taken over the former Debenhams unit at the Rock. 

In other places, landlords are moving away from retail. In Manchester, AM Alpha has won planning approval to convert the vast majority of the Rylands building on Market Street into 258,000 sq ft of offices. 

In Leeds, Orchard Street Investment Management is also plotting an office conversion; the proposal also features 124 student beds. 

Debenhams’ flagship Oxford Street store in London is also destined for an office-led revamp. 

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I see IKEA are looking at city centre sites, so wonder if they might be interested in the retail space here.

By Anonymous

A good idea. The days of the big stores are sadly over.

By Mark Gilbertson

IKEA is one of the obvious choices for the Lord Street or South John Street space. The way this store was designed gave it inbuilt flexibility with access from three separate levels of the city, all effectively at ground level because of Liverpool’s natural gradients; down from the elevated old castle area to the much lower old pool area. It was cleverly designed and built to take advantage of the sloping sites.
The retained retail area is in the retail area of the city, and the Chavasse Park area is already leisure so this makes perfect sense. Even the retained retail space is easy to divide with existing access from Lord Street or South John Street, and that’s still quite a lot of retail!

By Pool of Life

Any alternative usage of old larger retail space is to be welcomed….as already mentioned….the days of walk up shopping in city centres are diminishing….unless some utilisation can be found we shall he left with empty hulls…quietly rotting

By Tercol

Please bring Debenhams stores back. They are so missed x

By Yvonne

We need decent retailers to take over or a market place not more leisure places or restaurants our city centre is going more down hill than anywhere nothing makes me want to go into town to shop anymore it looks dirty and drab

By Terry

More leisure opportunities less retail. Retail is now 80% online.

By Steven

The Dock lands is in needs of something exciting. Say a rollercoaster playing beatles music, like the Rip Rocket at Universal Studios Florida. This would encourage the youth to listen to the world’s greatest band whilst viewing the city.

By Steven

I wonder how much crazy golf can a city actually sustain….think we need to be thinking more creatively, this feels like more of the same old same old…you can do better Grosvenor

By Anonymous

I honestly don’t think there’s any need to change the use of this building. There’s plenty of beneficiaries that suggest this would make great use for retail.
There is direct access to the underground car park, entrances on most floors and it anchors the Liverpool one shopping centre.

In fact, I think this building would be perfect for another department store. I could imagine stores such as Selfridges&Co taking up this space.

By ANONYMOUS

Lack of roadside pick up makes an ikea challenging. Flannels moving from L1 to the former Owen Owen department store, Clayton Square shows the limitation of the revenue share model in the modern retail era – lack of alternative stores willing to sign up only hammers home the point

By Milo