Former Debenhams store is acquired by council

A former Debenhams department store has been acquired by Bedford Borough Council as part of its strategy to rejuvenate the town centre, commercial property consultancy Kirkby Diamond announced today.

Situated on a prominent town centre site, the vacant 75,377 sq ft building has potential for mixed use development and the addition of further floors. Kirkby Diamond was instructed to market the property by Kroll Advisory Ltd acting as LPA receivers.

The former department store, which was vacant for three years, has been acquired by the local authority for an undisclosed sum. It was being marketed at offers in the region of £3 million.

Nathan George, associate and head of agency at Kirkby Diamond’s Bedford office, said: “Although the demise of Debenhams was a sad moment, the acquisition by Bedford Borough Council marks the beginning of a new era and an opportunity to rejuvenate the town centre. The former store provides accommodation over six levels and offers a fantastic redevelopment opportunity.”

He added: “Bedford Borough Council has continued its proactive approach to economic development across the borough and has acquired the property with a view to creating a more vibrant town centre. The site has been included in the Local Plan which considers how a scheme could potentially create smaller commercial units for retail or food/beverage occupiers, other leisure uses and residential opportunities on the upper floors.”

The Local Plan also includes Bedford Corn Exchange, the Harpur Suite and Bedford Central Library which all form part of the same block as the former Debenhams site. The site is located in a prominent position extending from the centre of Bedford High Street on to Silver Street at the start of the main pedestrianised area of the town centre.

Mayor of Bedford Borough, Tom Wootton, expressed optimism about the purchase, stating: “This acquisition is a crucial move in our efforts to revitalise the High Street and establish a vibrant community hub. We believe that this bold step will contribute to the development of an enticing town centre experience for both residents and visitors.”