The new owners of the Debenhams site in Worthing town centre have unveiled plans to transform the historic department store into a mixed-use development of retail and housing.
Shoreham and Worthing-based business partners Paul Craig and Ralph Gilbert took possession of the building in September this year and aim to submit their planning application in early 2022.
They have revealed plans to retain the ground floor for retail and transform the upper levels into flats varying in size from studios to penthouses.
The rooftop level will feature a lounge and garden that will incorporate communal working and social spaces like office pods and a garden kitchen. The project forms part of the wider regeneration of Worthing town centre, including the redevelopment of Beales also located on South Street.
Paul Craig, of Craig Developments, said: “We hope to be part of a re-launch of this part of town with this building acting as an anchor point for South Street. The future of the high street is bright, but it is going to be different. It will no longer be hundreds of square metres of shops, but will hopefully become more of a community with people living and shopping locally.
“Adur and Worthing Councils have a very positive attitude towards regenerating Worthing and going forward with developments, which has given us the confidence to take the risk and buy this old building despite the huge amount of work needed to regenerate and rebuild it.”
Cllr Nicola Waight, Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “While this development will have to go through the planning process, it is fantastic to see that coming out of the loss of this cornerstone department store is a plan from local businesses to revive the building and bring new life and opportunity into our town centre.”
The Debenhams building has a long history in the town and was originally built as Hubbard’s department store in the Art Deco style.
Much of the building’s original beauty has been lost over the years, including during a dramatic fire in the 1940’s.