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Medway Council snaps up empty Debenhams store in Chatham High Street for £2.2m


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The prospect of living in a town centre's former Debenhams store has taken a step forward after a council bought it for more than £2 million.

Medway Council has purchased the empty shop in Chatham High Street using a grant from the government’s Future High Streets Fund.

The former Debenhams site in Chatham High Street has now been sold for more than £2million
The former Debenhams site in Chatham High Street has now been sold for more than £2million

It has paid £2,205,000 for the building as part of its bid to regenerate the high street and increase town centre footfall.

The department store – which closed in January 2020 – has been on the council's radar since late last year with the possibility of it being turned into homes.

The council is reviewing options for the future of the site, with the aim of providing a location that drives growth, improves visitor experience and ensures future sustainability while supporting residents’ needs.

Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: "We are committed to supporting our high streets and the acquisition of the former Debenhams building is the latest step to help regenerate Chatham town centre. This large retail store has remained vacant for some time and we are reviewing plans on how best to put it back into use.

"By acquiring buildings in our high streets, like The Pentagon Shopping Centre and Mountbatten House, we are able to help shape the future of the area.

"These acquisitions, alongside Medway Development Company’s Waterfront and Garrison Point developments - which will provide high-quality housing in the centre of Chatham, will bring more opportunities to our emerging city centre and demonstrates our commitment to ensuring Medway continues to thrive by supporting the local economy, businesses and provide more jobs."

Debenhams in Chatham High Street before it closed down
Debenhams in Chatham High Street before it closed down

Chatham has seen heavy investment over recent years, from the Chatham Placemaking project – which wanted to improve the journey from the train station to the town centre – to funding for major improvements at historic landmarks.

In January last year the council received £9,497,720 from the fund which aims to transform high streets into vibrant areas for future generations and generate jobs.

The remaining money will be invested in a number of projects in Chatham including re-configuring the first floor of the Pentagon Shopping Centre for community use, delivering a creative and collaborative workspace at The Brook Theatre to support the development of the area’s creative sector, creating an innovation hub to support business start-ups and re-storing and re-developing the vacant St John’s Church into a conference and co-working hub.

The Future High Streets Fund is also being used to transform The Paddock (the space between Chatham Waterfront Bus Station and the Pentagon Shopping Centre) into a public space.

Last year the council was awarded £14.4million from the government’s Levelling Up Fund which will be invested into The Docking Station, The Brook Theatre and The Fitted Rigging House projects.

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