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PLANS to demolish a former Leicester department store and replace it with over 300 new flats, have been green lit by the city council.

Leicester City Council have approved a plan to replace the city’s former Debenham’s store, and part of its adjacent carpark with a total of 305 flats.

Picture: Pukaar News

A second application has been submitted requesting permission to use the upper and lower ground floor of the building to create four smaller shopping units.

The store, which sits in Leicester’s Highcross, has been empty since Debenham’s went into administration in April 2020.

Planning officers green lit the plans for the flat complex, after concluding that it was unlikely the space could be bought back into use as a department store any time soon.

“If the former Debenham’s store unit was to be left vacant in the hope that a suitable occupier would come forward, a long term, large vacant unit could harm the vitality and viability of the city centre,” they said.

“Instead, the proposed demolition and new residential and commercial development would secure investment and regeneration in the surrounding area, whilst contributing to the city’s overall housing need.”

The flat complex is set to consist of 10 studio flats, 172 one-bed flats, 107 two bed-flats and 16 three-bed flats. 

The tallest part of the complex will be 12 storeys high.

Although some nearby businesses have voiced concern over the disruption set to be cause by the work, others have said that the new flats will have a positive impact on their customer base in the long term.

Video: Pukaar News

“I think it’ll be really good for business having people as close as 50 metres from our front door, should give the residents an incentive to come and climb here,” said: Joseph Helmore, manager at nearby Social Climbing.

“We’ve got a fantastic customer base here anyway, and it’ll be worth it in the long run.

“Hopefully it’ll bring more business around this area because when they built the Highcross and these flats, they turned us into a backstreet pub,” said Bobby Brennan, landlady at the Cherry Tree pub.

“I’m not worried about the noise,” she added. “It’s better to have something there than an empty shop. Without a doubt, yes. And maybe the workers might even pop in for a pint after work.”

“People often raise possible construction nuisance in relation to applications but that isn’t a reason for refusing applications,” said a spokesman for Leicester City Council.

“They are normally mitigated and managed by imposing construction management plans, which form a condition of the planning consent.”

By Louise Steel