Stockport Council eyes Debenhams site
Stockport Council is planning to buy the long leasehold on the Debenhams store in the centre of town as a way of bringing forward a leisure-led scheme at the nearby Bridgefield site.
The council's executive will be asked to back the plan at a meeting on 6 February.
A report prepared ahead of the meeting states: "By acquiring this leasehold interest the council will have an improved opportunity to market and deliver a leisure-led regeneration scheme on the site of the current Bridgefield surface car park.
"The Bridgefield scheme is central to town centre regeneration in developing an enhanced and sustainable town centre offer.
"The acquisition will stand alone as an investment and provide an annual financial surplus to the council until such time that the Bridgefield scheme is developed and sold."
The report does not disclose the value of the site but it says Debenhams pays a rent of £670,000 a year and the council pays Debenhams £27,000 a year to use a rooftop car park.
The council already owns the freehold and granted a 999-year lease to Touchstone Properties and Emerson Holdings, who constructed the current store, in 1976.
This lease was eventually assigned to Ambassador Holdings which has now gone into administration.
The report adds: "The primary rationale for the acquisition is that it would support the delivery of a comprehensive regeneration scheme at the Bridgefield site, a project central to the redevelopment of the town centre.
"A third party absentee owner may only be interested in taking the benefit of the rental income and may not have the council's wider regenerative interests in mind.
"As Debenhams' landlord, the council would have the opportunity to develop incentives to encourage investment by Debenhams in the store itself which is in need of updating."