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Plans submitted to convert Harrogate's former Debenhams into apartments

Plans have been submitted to convert Harrogate’s former Debenhams department store on Parliament Street into 34 apartments and commercial units.

Plans submitted to convert Harrogate's former Debenhams into apartments Plans have been submitted to convert Harrogate’s former Debenhams department store on Parliament Street into 34 apartments and commercial units. Wetherby-based developer Stirling Prescient says it will “retain, restore and sympathetically convert” the current buildings without the need for demolition, as was previously hoped. The application comes two years after the developer withdrew a bid to demolish the former store to build a modern apartment block. The previous application received opposition from Historic England, Harrogate Civic Society and Harrogate Borough Council’s conservation officer with the latter saying that demolition would harm the town’s appearance. The site had been a retail staple on Parliament Street for over a century and housed the Buckley’s and Busby’s stores before becoming Debenhams in the 1960s. After entering administration, Debenhams left Harrogate in January 2021 and the buildings have remained empty since. In 2022, a report from the national charity SAVE Britain’s Heritage named the site as one of 18 former ‘cathedrals of commerce’ that should be spared from demolition and repurposed. NW-Architects has produced designs for the developer that show commercial units for retail or hospitality will be created on the ground floors with the upper floors converted into housing with a rooftop extension. An internal courtyard would be created as well as a car park in the basement for residents. Under the plans, a 1960s-era extension will be reclad with Portland stone to create a “high-quality, contemporary building” that works with its surroundings on Parliament Street. A planning statement submitted on behalf of the developer argues the site no longer has a future as retail due to changing shopping habits. It says:

“Retail patterns have been changing for some time as a result of the growth of online shopping and the pandemic exacerbated this trend. "Increased home working has also impacted town centres because employers have either closed their offices or adopted more flexible working paterns, resulting in reduced footfall. “The investment in the redevelopment of the site is being undertaken in challenging economic circumstances and so demonstrates the applicant’s confidence in Harrogate’s future.”
North Yorkshire Council will make a decision on the plans at a later date. By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter Read more local stories from Your Harrogate here.

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