Debenhams store bought by Gloucestershire University to use as lecture halls

Debenhams University of Gloucestershire
The site once had a Bonmarché department store but that was mostly rebuilt in the 1930s (Image: University of Gloucestershire Press Office)
// Debenhams’ Gloucester store snapped up by University of Gloucestershire
// The university plans to use the space as lecture halls and for training nurses
// Students are expected to begin studying there by September 2023

The Debenhams store in Gloucester is set to be transformed into lecture halls and training spaces for nurses and healthcare workers as the department store chain continues to close stores and switch to online.

The store has been closed since December under the government’s high-street lockdown and will not reopen following a winding-up court order in January.

The site has been acquired by the University of Gloucestershire, which plans to retain the original fascia and refurbish its 215,278sq ft over five floors.


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The university hopes that students will begin studying there by September 2023.

Debenhams’ brand was purchased by Boohoo Group earlier this year in a £55 million deal – but not its high-street outlets.

Part of the Gloucestershire store’s ground floor will be allocated as local community cultural and enterprise space.

The site once had a Bonmarché department store but that was mostly rebuilt in the 1930s.

“The Debenhams building has a special place in the hearts of local people, and we’re delighted that our plans will help breathe new life and purpose into a place that is central to the city’s heritage,” University of Gloucestershire vice-chancellor Stephen Marston said.

“It is part of the University’s mission to support the growth and development of our community, economically, socially and culturally.

“By repurposing this iconic building into a new hub for learning, we can make a major contribution to creating a better future for our community.”

As Debenhams’ stores begin to close permanently, they are snapped up and transformed for other uses.

Most recently, property giant Hammerson snapped up the former Debenhams store in Leicester, with plans to convert it into 300 rental flats – following a public consultation which took place at the end of last year.

Hammerson submitted plans to Leicester City Council to redevelop the former Debenhams store which is part of the Highcross shopping centre on St Peter’s Lane.

The plans were developed in association with private-rented-sector specialist Packaged Living.

The scheme will provide more than 300 new homes, as well as resident amenities including a roof garden.

Since it fell into administration last April, Debenhams had already announced significant job losses and store closures – including the more recent announcement of six store closures, of which its flagship outlet on London’s Oxford Street was a part.

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