Debenhams Southsea: Work begins at former Palmerston Road store as developers plan to build new Handleys Corner flats

Work appears to be underway at the site of a former Southsea department store where developers plan to create new flats.

The defunct Debenhams store in Palmerston Road has been empty since it closed for the final time in January 2020. Earlier this year, a lack of progress from the building’s previous owners lead Portsmouth City Council to consider enacting a compulsory purchase order, with the cabinet stating it could “no longer tolerate land banking developers”.

In recent weeks, workers have been active at the site – now known as Handleys Corner – and structures behind the street-facing portion of the building have been demolished. Now, scaffolding has been erected on the building’s facade and construction is underway.

Planning permission to redevelop the site was agreed in November 2021 and a business case has since also been approved for the relocation of Trafalgar Medical Group Practice to the new ground floor health centre.

Leader of Portsmouth City Council councillor Steve Pitt said that the progress was a “welcome” sign and “the outcome the council wanted”, adding that the proposed plans will give a much needed boost to footfall and retail in the area. He added that he hopes the finished development will still include the planned medical provision, as well as active frontages.

The News understands that St Cross Homes is involved in the site’s development, and the developers’ website displays concept art of the building, depicting flats, shopfronts and outdoor seating on the adjacent pavement area – with the caption “coming soon”.

Here are 10 pictures of what the building currently looks like: