Plans to convert Southsea Debenhams into 134 homes and health hub given go ahead

WORK to convert a former department store in the city into 134 homes as well as a new 'health hub' can now start.

By Fiona Callingham
Thursday, 28th January 2021, 1:10 pm

Portsmouth councillors approved plans to transform the now-closed Debenhams site in Palmerston Road, in Southsea, into 134 flats – with a GP surgery, dental practice and other commercial units on its ground floor.

As part of the scheme – to be re-branded as Handleys' Corner – the upper four floors of the existing building will be developed into 98 flats. And a new three-storey block will be built at the rear following the demolition of outbuildings, to contain 36 homes.

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How Debenhams in Southsea could look. Picture: National Regional Property Group

Shaun Adams, chief executive of developers National Regional Property Group, said: 'We are delighted that the city council has approved our transformational plans for Handleys’ Corner. We’re keen to deliver the homes, jobs, shops and new “health hub” which will help regenerate the centre of Southsea.

'We look forward to working with the council closely over the coming weeks to get on site as quickly as possible and bring this now vacant site back into use, breathing life back into Palmerston Road and the surrounding area.'

Under the project 45 parking spaces will be created in the basement of the main building and undercroft parking for 60 cars will be included under the new block.

A total of 246 cycle storage spaces will also be provided across the site.

During a virtual planning meeting this week at which planning permission was granted, councillors raised some concerns that not enough parking spaces were provided but agreed the need to re-purpose the building outweighed this.

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Lee Hunt said: 'You don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

'We must not forget an awful lot of shopping areas are in an awful lot of trouble. It's going to bring hundreds more people in to spend money in the area.'

Cllr Luke Stubbs added: 'It's a real time of change for retail.

'We have got a big empty building and the priority is to find a use. There's not much demand for office space so that leaves residential. It's a positive scheme.'

Councillors approved delegated authority to council officers to work out some of the scheme's finer details - including affordable housing provision - before work can start.

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