Deal still in pipeline for new department store for empty Debenhams in Blackpool Houndshill Shopping Centre

Hopes are still alive of a new department store operator moving into Blackpool's empty Debenhams store - if lawyers can agree a deal.

By Shelagh Parkinson
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 3:30 pm

The council has confirmed it remains in talks with a potential new tenant for the store which closed in May 2021.

A report says "discussions are currently ongoing with a potential new department store retailer to replace the former Debenhams department store."

Negotiations have been dragging on for more than a year, with town hall chiefs refusing to disclose the name of the potential operator although a source has previously said it would be "a big name".

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Blackpool's former Debenhams store

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Council leader Coun Lynn Williams told a full meeting of the council she was "as frustrated" as everyone that she was unable to reveal further details but added "it's with the lawyers."

She said: "As soon as we can, I will be making sure everyone is aware of who it is."

Coun Rick Scott raised concerns about the length of time it was taking to bring in a new tenant, and the loss of revenue it was causing the council which owns the Houndshill Shopping Centre.

Work on the Houndshill extension

He said: "This has been ongoing for some time and I know the answer I will get is it is commercially sensitive.

"The council is building a new complex next door, yet the flagship of the Houndshill is empty since Debenhams departed.

"We are not getting the revenue from leasing out Debenhams but we are building another complex. A lot of the public want to know, is this going to be another white elephant left empty for years?"

But the meeting heard plans were progressing.

A council report says the steel framework was completed at the end of May.

It adds: "Scaffolding to the west elevation is now in place and demolition to external walls has commenced to make the connection with the existingcentre.

"The cinema operator is finalising discussions with a world leading cinema technology supplier."

Deals were signed in February 2021 for the £21m second phase of Houndshill including a 22,500 sq ft Wilko store, and a deal with MMC Cinemas for a nine screen, 850 seat multi-media cinema complex, including the biggest immersive screen in Lancashire.

Phase two also includes two restaurants totalling 3,760 sq ft although operators have yet to be revealed.