Worthing Debenhams plan: Here’s what people think

Plans for Worthing’s Debenhams building have received a mixed reaction from the public.

The plans for the historic building were unveiled yesterday after Shoreham and Worthing-based business partners, Paul Craig and Ralph Gilbert, bought the site at the end of last year.

They plan to retain the ground floor for retail and transform the upper levels into flats varying in size.

Commenting on the story on the Herald’s Facebook page, Tim Clarke said: “Any decent council would be trying to attract a major store like Primark who would be only too pleased to take on such a store. Or, encourage smaller retailers to take on parts of it.

The owners of the old Debenhams site on South Street im Worthing have plans to transform the building into a mixed-use development of retail and housing

“Expensive apartments in the town centre will only encourage nimbies who will subsequently complain about the noise in the evening. They certainly won’t contribute to the local economy.”

Shaun Hole said the flats need to be affordable: “To be honest, the days of a large department store are gone, it’s an out of date style, even John Lewis stories are struggling to get footfall.

“So, really, converting the upper levels into flats is the only option, however, they need to be affordable so that they’re more attractive to a wider range of people and not just overpriced luxury things designed to earn the developer and landlord short term monetary gain.”

Michael Taylor was fairly positive about the plans. He said: “I would love to see one of the big brands take over but I think it’s unrealistic to expect the whole building to remain dedicated to retail as there are very few retailers who would require this much space.

“I am pleased that the ground floor will remain retail and hope that it attracts a business that will complement our high street.

“With regards to the dwellings above, I think the town will benefit from more people living centrally as it will bring more footfall and support of businesses too.”

Many people on our Facebook page want the space to be converted into a Primark. Hannah Franks is one of those people. She said: “It’s crazy that Primark doesn’t take that space... not enough footfall, trust me, it would be packed!

“You would have all the surrounding towns coming in, Littlehampton, Angmering, Lancing, etc, which would increase the overall footfall in our town centre.”

Others agreed, with Suzanne Munday saying: “Definitely should be a Primark.” And Nikita Ransley adding: “This should definitely either be a Primark or B&M.”

However, some were in disagreement with the idea of Primark.

Wes Martin said: “You have to worry about retail when people think the only salvation for Worthing town is to get a Primark. I have nothing against Primark, but it just seems a bit helpless when a wide selection of people think only one brand of discount clothing is the answer to the town’s problems.”