The site comprises an early 20th century corner block and a 1960s addition abutting the Westminster Arcade. Credit: planning documents

Stirling Prescient tries again with Harrogate’s Debenhams

The development vehicle has replaced demolition plans with a project that includes ground floor leisure and 34 apartments as part of a wholesale revamp of the Parliament Street location.

Planner Quod and NW Architects are advising on the project, with the professional team also including BWB, Andrew Moseley Associates, ENS, GIA and heritage advisor Turley.

Debenhams ceased trading at the 22-30 Parliament Street site in January 2021. At the junction with Oxford Street, the site is a prominent location, with the Turkish Baths and Harrogate House across the road.

The driving element of the project is for 34 apartments. The plans include a rooftop extension for part of this residential offer, along with the removal and replacement of canopies, shopfronts, and slate roof, the recladding of the 1960s element of the building and replacement of all windows.

The plans from Stirling Prescient No. 1 represent the vehicle’s second attempt at a scheme, having earlier raised alarm with a proposal for demolition and the introduction of a 50-apartment building with ground floor leisure. Historic England opposed the plan strongly.

The site concerned is made up of an early 20th century building and later 1960s addition, which abuts the listed Westminster Arcade.

Stirling Prescient now proposed a sympathetic restoration, with new cast-iron canopies to be introduced and the 1960s building to be stripped back and re-fronted in Portland stone. A basement parking and servicing area to the rear are included.

Not untypically for historic town centre retail buildings, the site offers up a series of challenges due to the hotch-potch nature of its assembly. Much work is required – as NW’s design & access statement details, “the building is in a dilapidated state and requires significant investment to bring it up to a high quality standard”.

The roofscape alone demonstrates what a mish-mash the complex is, being a collection of dormers, hipped and pitched roofs.

The proposed commercial unit would be over two floors, accounting for a total 15,246 sq ft. Of the apartments, eight are proposed as one-bedroom and 26 as two-bedroom. As the building steps up with the elevation of Oxford Street, it is set over seven floors, including basement.

The first floor residential area will benefit from an internal private courtyard. Four of the 10 apartments at this level will be adaptable for those with accessibility needs, meeting the statutory threshold.

Since the demise of Debenhams, projects have come forward across the country as councils and developers look to plug yawning gaps left by what was a staple of any retail pitch.

While a short-term ‘people to people’ trading floor has been promoted by MHA at the former store in Sheffield’s The Moor, others have advanced plans further.

A major leisure attraction has been introduced in Liverpool, and similar is planned in Newcastle, while Manchester’s former Debenhams is in the process of a large-scale redevelopment into offices, retail and leisure.

In smaller locations, stores have ben broken up for scaled-down retail spaces or training centres, while Stockport has floated an ambitious plan to convert the site into hospital space, also mulling film studio use.

The application can be viewed on North Yorkshire Council’s planning portal with the reference number ZC23/03273/FULMAJ.

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