Future of Debenhams Taunton
Debenhams has been the subject of much coverage in the national and local media. The difficulties they have been facing are well known. As a result contingency plans are now in progress in case Debenhams in Taunton closes.
Although Somerset West and Taunton Council and their Executive have been briefed, this information has not yet been placed in the public domain as there are obvious and significant sensitivities around this application.
The Debenhams store in Taunton has been a major landmark for decades. It has once again survived the national round of closures and it is still expected to open post-lockdown.
However, whilst no-one wants it to close, the company clearly faces a massive challenge. Having a contingency plan in place is seen as a priority for Taunton and the continued health of the high street.
In the current economic climate, there is little demand for retail premises of this size. If the store were to close redevelopment options will need to be considered. Consultants Crossmark and their design team are now working on that plan on behalf of the landlord. Crossmark are specialists in UK real estate development and investment
Plans so far involve a mixed-use development that enables a variety of commercial uses to be retained on the ground floor and provides active retirement living for over 55s on the upper floors. The owners believe this approach would be the best bet to secure the necessary investment to ensure the plans can be delivered.
Discussions have begun with Somerset West and Taunton Council as the Local Planning Authority. An overview of work to date will be publicly available online from 28th May at http://www.19to26northstreet.co.uk Feedback is welcomed.
Obviously at this stage of the process and with such an important building to the town centre, the more the merrier. Redport, a multi-disciplinary consultancy providing strategic project solutions in regeneration and development, are handling communications for the project. Alison Bancroft of Redport told The Leveller® that getting the public’s view was important but would be tricky in the short term ‘With public gatherings unlikely for the foreseeable future, we’ve been looking at how we can best consult online. We’re beginning the consultation at an early stage to give plenty of time for people to become aware of these proposals and respond. As designs develop, we will also be holding public webinars to present proposals and give people a chance to ask questions. ’