Published: 12:10, 09 February 2021
| Updated: 12:13, 09 February 2021
Home Bargains has pulled the plug on plans to open a huge new store in Kent, sources say.
The popular discount chain was set to move into the former Halfords premises in Herne Bay and extend the shop floor into a large part of the neighbouring Homebase.
The DIY giant has already downsized by partitioning off a section of its store at the start of last year.
But the Home Bargains move is now off the table, with Homebase confirming this week that it is "exploring a number of options" for the empty unit.
No reason has been given, and Home Bargains - which has remained coy about opening in Herne Bay since the plans first materialised - refused to comment when approached this week.
News of its potential launch in the town first emerged following the relocation of Halfords to Whitstable in September 2019.
A planning application to change the building's use to a "discount store" was given the go-ahead two months later by Canterbury City Council.
Documents described the prospective tenant as a "discount retailer" only operating from "out of centre locations due to the types of products sold".
Despite Homebase staff revealing they had been told Home Bargains was to move in next door, the budget chain said of any potential launch: “At this very early stage, we can’t confirm this."
Tellingly, The Range, Poundstretcher, B&M and Poundland all confirmed they had no interest in the site.
Homebase was then partitioned off just before the first lockdown, and hoardings were put up around the frontage of the neighbouring unit.
These hoardings have now been removed, with sources saying Home Bargains has pulled out of the move.
When contacted this week, the discount retailer told KentOnline: "It’s unfortunately not something Home Bargains is able to comment on at this time."
But Homebase has confirmed a search for a new tenant is back on, with a spokesman saying: "We are currently exploring a number of options for the unit next to Homebase Herne Bay and will make sure to keep the local community informed once finalised."
It has not been confirmed if the unit referred to is the former Halfords alone, or a larger store incorporating the currently vacant section of Homebase.