Old Debenhams Stockport store in line for £850,000 revamp
Council bosses are keen to ensure the building contributes to the town’s ongoing regeneration.
The former Debenhams store in Stockport town centre is being lined up for an £850,000 overhaul as the council bids to breathe new life into the building.
The authority is set to spend £850,000 on refurbishing the former department store – which connects Merseyway Shopping Centre and Red Rock leisure complex via a rooftop car park – in order to secure its medium-term future.
The council bought the building in 2012, but it closed last year after Debenhams went into administration. Since then, the building has not attracted any commercial interest and has recently been used as a storage facility.
While the site is earmarked for a new town centre hospital, this is not expected to materialise for another 5-10 years – and bosses are keen to ensure the building contributes to the town’s ongoing regeneration in the meantime.
Council chiefs says the building’s appearance is ‘poor’ and will detract from the new transport interchange – meaning it is ‘crucial that a physical change is made and a beneficial use brought to the site’.
The ‘preferred option’ is a £850k investment to ‘bring the building up to a standard that would enable one or more commercial uses to occupy in the former department store.’
A report that went before a council scrutiny committee on Thursday night, says the work would mainly involve the creation of open-plan areas that ‘strip back to the building structure with works to provide services and ancillary space’.
It adds: “The redevelopment of the former Debenhams building would reinforce the message to the market that Stockport is a desirable location.
“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.”
While it does not name any potential tentants, bosses say this would generate income, bring the building back into use and provide ‘additional benefits’ to the town centre.
Papers also note that it is ‘likely that the preferred option for the building would help to support a number of new jobs both in the building itself and in the ancillary businesses expected to cluster around a new facility.’
Coun David Meller, former cabinet member for economy and regeneration, has welcomed the plan.
“The proposal is excellent in my view and very in line with a lot of the work already going on in the town centre – particularly with Stockroom [the £14.5m new ‘learning and discovery centre’],” he told the scrutiny committee meeting.
“I’m very, very happy with what is in this and very excited – and it will be great when we can say a bit more and we are not shackled by confidentiality.”
Council papers say the vacant building is a ‘significant cost’ to the council – and is likely to continue to deteriorate without investment.
The redevelopment costs would be financed by borrowing, but the project is expected to make a ‘small return’ over the medium term.
A dedicated ‘Town Centre Task Force’ found that demolishing the building at this stage would not provide ‘financial value’ – ruling out a new surface level car park or new hospitality and leisure destinations.
The proposal will go to the council’s cabinet for a decision on Tuesday, June 28.