Stockport plots medium-term Debenhams revamp
The long-term plan remains to redevelop the site of the former department store into a £500m hospital. In the meantime, the council is moving to convert the town centre building and let it out to commercial occupiers.
Stockport Council wants to “bring the building up to a standard that would enable one or more commercial uses to occupy in the former department store”, according to a cabinet report.
“Following the closure of Debenhams we have been working hard to find alternative, viable uses for the building, which has been challenging,” said Cllr Colin Macalister, cabinet member for economy and regeneration at Stockport Council.
“The space isn’t suitable as currently configured so the [cabinet] report sets out targeted investment to clear parts of the building to make it attractive for prospective tenants.”
A specific end-user has not yet been identified but it is understood that the building could be converted into a mixed-use scheme featuring a leisure element.
The council acquired the building in 2012 and Debenhams ceased trading from the premises last year, sparking speculation around the future use of the building.
Last September, Stockport revealed it was bidding for funding to deliver a town centre hospital on the site.
However, plans for the hospital are “at a very early stage and any development of the site is unlikely to happen in the short to medium term”, according to the council.
Subsequently, the authority has been in talks with its Town Centre Task Force about how best to use the building in the next “five to seven years” to generate an income for the authority.
A preferred use, which aims to “generate income and bring animation to this part of the town”, is to be discussed when the council’s cabinet meets next week.
“The additional footfall and positive PR generated by the redevelopment would help to boost the local economy and would demonstrate Stockport’s determination to find new uses for the three former department stores that are located in the town centre,” the report added.