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Folkestone's empty Debenhams site to receive makeover

Plans have emerged to give Folkestone's empty Debenhams store a makeover.

The district council are hoping to fill all 39 windows with vinyl graphics in order to brighten up the town centre.

A sorry state - fallen down signs at Folkestone's Debenhams are to be replaced with a new display
A sorry state - fallen down signs at Folkestone's Debenhams are to be replaced with a new display

They will replace the current window signs - which are a mix of Debenhams branding and plain sheets, both of which are half falling down.

The new wrap will be a short term solution until a tenant, or tenants, are found to fill the vacant building in Sandgate Road, which closed for good on Sunday, January 19.

Cllr David Wimble (Ind), Folkestone and Hythe District Council's (FHDC) cabinet member for economy, said: "The council is working closely with the administrators of the Debenhams in Folkestone in order to take forward our proposals for the interim use of the building.

"We're also working with other parties on longer term plans which will see the building remain an important part of the town centre in the future."

The councillor was responding to a question from Cllr Laura Davison (Lab) at last week's full council meeting about what is being done to prevent the site from becoming a "neglected eyesore".

The now empty Debenhams store in Folkestone
The now empty Debenhams store in Folkestone

And while Cllr Wimble could not reveal what is happening behind closed doors, he did say FHDC wants to improve the look of the store.

He said: "I can tell you the decision was made last week to dress all the main windows with some vinyl graphics which will hopefully do a timeline for what we want to do with the building."

It is not known when the new display will appear, as FHDC does not currently have access to the building.

Folkestone's Debenhams was one of four in Kent to close last month - the other three were in Canterbury, Ashford and Chatham.

Cllr David Wimble
Cllr David Wimble

But it is not the only chain to leave Folkestone's town centre - in the last two years both Next and Peacocks have shut up shop.

But FHDC revealed plans to overhaul the town centre last year - this includes fitting a cinema in Debenhams' old unit and adding new homes and more restaurants.

It has also invested £3m for a new 'High Streets Fund', designed to support ailing businesses and give a boost to new and innovative projects.

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