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Debenhams building to become university campus

March 17, 2021 6:56 AM

Councillors Ashley Bowkett and Jeremy Hilton outside Debenhams in Kings SquareThe iconic Debenhams building in the centre of Gloucester has been bought by the University of Gloucestershire.

The 1930s art deco building will be restored and turned into a five-storey campus in the heart of the city centre.

The university is also considering ways of turning the ground floor of the building into dual use - allowing access to services by the public.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, leader of Gloucester Liberal Democrats, said: "The acquisition of the Debenhams building by the university is good news.

"A vibrant campus here will bring life back to the city centre. I'm delighted that they are going to retain, restore and repurpose this magnificent 1930's building.

"We have known for months that Aviva the owners were seeking disposal. The demise of Debenhams has opened the door for the university to acquire the freehold. They will be much better custodians of one of Gloucester's landmarks.

"I am so glad that the building is going to be retained. There was a big worry that the new owner would want to demolish it for a new building.

"There may be a need for public money to help with the building's conversion and restoration. It will be an expensive job.

"I can guarantee that a future Lib Dem administration will work closely with the University of Gloucestershire to assist them in bidding for Government funds and support them during the design phase.

"There is also an opportunity for the university to work closely with the owners of the buildings in St Aldate Street and The Oxbode to encourage their renewal which could include high quality student accommodation on the upper floors."

It is hoped that the first phase of the project could be completed by September 2023.