Debenhams Commercial Road: Plans to create tallest building in the city take another huge step forward

Indicative CGI for the former Debenham's redevelopmentIndicative CGI for the former Debenham's redevelopment
Indicative CGI for the former Debenham's redevelopment
Plans to create the tallest building in Portsmouth have advanced as developers detail the “major investment” in the city centre.

Indicative CGI for the former Debenhams redevelopmentIndicative CGI for the former Debenhams redevelopment
Indicative CGI for the former Debenhams redevelopment

Proposals to transform the former Debenhams into a 35-storey skyscraper featuring hundreds of homes and retail units are now being submitted to Portsmouth City Council.

A spokesperson for Phil Salmon Limited, representing the applicant, said the application “follows two and a half years of ongoing discussions with city council officers regarding the site’s future.”

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“The key regenerating task is to deliver new modern shopping to support the changing retail market and to boost the regeneration of Commercial Road.

“The delivery of this will depend on the provision of new homes for local people working within and  beyond the city centre, close to multiple modes of public transport.”

Indicative CGI for the former Debenhams redevelopmentIndicative CGI for the former Debenhams redevelopment
Indicative CGI for the former Debenhams redevelopment

Central to the project is a 115m main tower being built at the corner of Commercial Road and Arundel Street. Additional buildings of 23, 15, and five storeys are also planned, offering residential accommodations alongside retail and indoor recreational facilities.

The proposals include 853 sqm of new ground floor retail space, 3600 sqm of commercial space above the retail areas, internal pedestrian linkages connecting Surrey Street, Arundel Street, and Commercial Road, as well as new public realm and civic spaces. In total, the development aims to provide 568 new apartment homes.

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Debenhams closed in March 2021 due to rapid changes in the retail sector and the initial Covid lockdown. Since then, the site, including its car park, has remained vacant and has visibly deteriorated, becoming an eyesore.

Pictured: Debenhams on Commercial Road, Portsmouth after it permanently closed in 2021.
Picture: Sarah StandingPictured: Debenhams on Commercial Road, Portsmouth after it permanently closed in 2021.
Picture: Sarah Standing
Pictured: Debenhams on Commercial Road, Portsmouth after it permanently closed in 2021. Picture: Sarah Standing

If approved, the 35-storey building would surpass the current tallest structure in Portsmouth, the ‘Lipstick Tower’ at Gunwharf Quays, which stands at 26 storeys. Additionally, the proposed 23-storey building would also rank among the city’s tallest skyscrapers.

The site is known as Jubilee Place, commemorating the 2022 Platinum Jubilee and the Queen Elizabeth II Fountain. Originally sponsored by Landports, the department store, the fountain was unveiled during the Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977.

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