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Canterbury's £25 million redevelopment proposals for Debenhams site

One of the most exciting redevelopment schemes in Canterbury's city centre for decades has been lodged with the city council for approval.

The £25 million proposals for the doomed Debenhams site were first revealed exclusively in the KentOnline in July.

A CGI of the proposed development fronting the High Street Pic: Clague Architects
A CGI of the proposed development fronting the High Street Pic: Clague Architects

Now architects Clague have submitted detailed plans which will be open to public consultation before council officers make a recommendation to the planning committee.

But the scheme, which will be known as the Guildhall Quarter, shows an imaginative re-use of the site with a mix of shops and flats, has already been welcomed as a "saviour of the city centre" following the news that Debenhams is to close.

The application is for the redevelopment and conversion of the department store complex into 74 flats involving rooftop extensions and terraces and 12 new ground level retail units.

The early reaction to the scheme has been largely positive from organisations like Canterbury BID and the Canterbury Society.

Clague, which is acting for clients Chaucer Property Investments, says: "The closure of Debenhans will leave a significant hole in the centre of Canterbury.

Clague partner Karl Elliott
Clague partner Karl Elliott

"This is an an extremely exciting opportunity to revitalise the High Street".

Clague says their plans have paid particular attention to the redevelopment's sensitive setting in a conservation area and being so close to the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Canterbury Cathedral.

Clague partner Karl Elliott said: "We have been very encouraged by the largely positive feedback we have received about the plans so far.

"It is a hugely complex scheme to deliver but we will be ready to start if and when planning permission is granted."

Planning agents Goddard says the development will bring significant economic and social benefits to the city.

"The long term future of the buildings is of paramount concern but this objective has to be balanced against the amount of investment which will be needed to repair and restore them," they say.

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