Debenhams progress 'great' for town centre regeneration

Former Debenhams building in Ipswich town centre

Former Debenhams building in Ipswich town centre - Credit: Archant

The redevelopment of Ipswich's "iconic" Debenhams is one of three key areas of regeneration for the town say leaders as work to transform the former department store continues. 

Unex, the company that purchased the building in May 2021 said that it could turn the building “into a one-off seated or standing concert space” before further work commenced. 

The company said the project to strip out the building is nearing its final stages.

The news has been met positively by the head of the borough council and Ipswich Central in their hopes to see the building "brought back to life". 

Sophie Alexander-Parker, the Ipswich Central CEO said: “I am pleased to hear that there is progress being made for this iconic building.  

Former Debenhams building in Ipswich town centre

Former Debenhams building in Ipswich town centre - Credit: Archant

“Thinking about buildings and space differently is important, so it’s great to hear that mixed-use is being considered. This could be an incredible space if utilised properly.  

“However, wider collaboration must be maintained to make sure it is fit for purpose, not just for now but in the future too.” 

The Ipswich Central CEO said that the former Debenhams building, located beside Lloyds Avenue, is one of three key locations for regeneration. 

Former Debenhams building in Ipswich town centre

Former Debenhams building in Ipswich town centre - Credit: Archant

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David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, said: “It’s great to see Unex progressing their plans for the Debenhams building and I’m looking forward to seeing new stores bringing it back into life.” 

 Unex gave an update on the project as fencing has now gone up around the town centre building.

Adrian Morris, managing director at Unex, said: “We are nearing the end of stripping the property back to its shell, with the exception of the ground floor which we have tidied up leaving lights and suspended ceiling in.   

“As the strip out works have progressed, the building looks even better than it did when Unex first acquired it. The floor plates are cavernous."

Unex hopes to open part of the building by next Christmas, potentially providing an opportunity to use the store as a concert venue.

Mr Morris added: “We have even considered whether a one-off concert might be held in the building before further works commence.

“If anyone knows a fairly local famous singer in the area, I would be happy to hear if he is interested!   

“Unex has hosted concerts previously at a venue in Braintree where The Prodigy, amongst others, performed.”