This is how Hastings’ Debenhams building could house shops, cinema and a restaurant - and why it could boost footfall for all town centre shops
The new owners of Hastings’ Debenhams building say they have ‘exciting’ plans for the site.
The Robertson Street store closed its doors for the final time in May.
Since then, many have speculated about what they would like to see replace the landmark store.
Independent property consultancy Allsop was involved in the sale of the building which attracted 30 viewings.
This led to nine bids and the sale of the building for £2.6 million.
The building was purchased by Moxie, a family-owned property development company, in January 2020.
Sophie Hubble, Moxie company director, said: “Since learning of Debenhams demise, we have spent our time immersing ourselves in the local community.
“We have built strong and positive links with Hastings Borough Council, community organisations and some local businesses to identify what the best possible end user for the building will be.
“A focus on adding to the community, creating new jobs and skills and preserving this building is key.”
She said they were looking to drive footfall into the town centre through well-known brand names or ‘new, exciting retail concepts’.
She added:” We are potentially looking at a restaurant concept at the rear of the building, overlooking the sea, so that the wonderful view can still be accessed by the community.
“In addition, we have identified that the building could also house a number of indoor entertainment uses such as ten pin bowling, cinema, golf, gym.”
She stressed this was still at the planning stage.
She said: “We are, however, committed to raising the profile of the High Street, drive footfall into the town and surrounding areas, create employment opportunities and work with both HBC and the community to ensure that this prominent building is relevant, useful, and beautiful again.
“We feel we need to stress that we are at the beginning of a very long journey and the challenge for us will be to try to make these exciting ideas and concepts into a reality.”
Her business partner, Bella Landen, added “It’s a really exciting time for Hastings right now with the New Towns Fund.
“There are lots of new local plans and initiatives in the pipeline and Moxie are committed to finding a vibrant use for the building that will positively add to this mix.
“Ideas that have been discussed so far include leisure, entertainment and creative uses that would sit well with a retail offering on the high street”.
Moxie said it was ‘determined to find the right offering for Hastings and its community.’
And added: “This building has a real emotional and historical connection for the residents of Hastings and its plans for the future are exciting.”
John Bownas from Love Hastings praised the new owners.
He said: “It’s been terrific dealing with the new owners of the building.
“They are so far removed from the typical faceless companies who you might expect to buy places like this, and I’m positive they’re looking for an option that will be in the best long term interests of the town.”
Moxie said there was no plan for a residential element to the project.