Plans submitted to convert Harrogate Debenhams into 34 flats
Dec 1, 2023
Visual of the new plan for Harrogate's former Debenhams.
Visual of the new plan for Harrogate's former Debenhams.

Fresh plans have been lodged to convert the former Debenhams building in Harrogate into 34 apartments.

Wetherby-based Stirling Prescient No. 1 Limited has tabled the proposal to North Yorkshire Council for the site on Parliament Street.

The building has been home to different retailers for more than a century. Before Debenhams, it housed the Buckley’s and Busby’s stores.

A previous application from Stirling Prescient had proposed the demolition of the building to make way for 50 flats. However, this was withdrawn in May 2022.

The fresh plan would retain the site and see the upper floors converted into 34 flats. The ground floor and basement levels would be used as “flexible commercial space” or a “drinking establishment”.

Debenhams on Parliament Street, Harrogate

Debenhams on Parliament Street, Harrogate pictured in April 2020.

It also proposes erecting a rooftop extension, plus the removal and replacement of canopies, shop fronts and slate roof, and removal and re-cladding of the facade of the 1960s element of the building.

A secure cycle store and seven car parking spaces are also included in the plan.

In documents submitted to the council, the developer said the new proposal would help to restore the site.

It said:

“The proposed development is located within the heart of the town centre with excellent pedestrian and public transport links and will provide a high quality and vibrant new residential development.

“The proposed building will create a new focal point along Parliament Street, restoring and sympathetically converting the current buildings on the site.”

‘Substantially revised’ proposal

The move comes as previous proposals to demolish the site were met with opposition.

In March 2022, Emma Gibbens, conservation officer at Harrogate Borough Council, said the demolition of the building would harm the local area.

She said:

“The loss of the traditional building form and architectural detail would be harmful to the street scene and character and special interest of the conservation area, the building forming part of the designated heritage asset in a manner that contributes positively to its character.”

The objection followed similar concerns from campaign group Save Britain’s Heritage, which said the developer had failed to provide “clear or adequate justification” for demolishing the building.

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However, Historic England said it supported regeneration of the site but added that there should be a “sensitive conversion” of the two older department store buildings.

Documents submitted to the council as part of the fresh proposal acknowledged that plans to demolish the store were not well received.

However, it added that the scheme had been “substantially revised and positively respond to the feedback received”.

It said:

“The proposals will secure the long-term future of the site which will deliver wide ranging and lasting benefits to the town centre. Flexible commercial space at ground level and new residential development will strengthen the town’s long-term vitality and viability.”

North Yorkshire Council will make a decision on the plans at a later date.

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