Music venue could take over former Debenhams store in Bolton

The owners say there is no chance of it ever becoming a store again as they have no interest from retailers.

Radical transformation plans for the former Debenhams department store in Bolton town center include the construction of rooftop football pitches. The former flagship store in the Market Place mall has been vacant since the retail giant closed the outlet in May 2021.

The owners of Moorgarth Retail say there is now ‘no prospect of finding a new tenant to take over the whole unit’. They have now released ambitious plans to change the use of the building which includes outdoor football pitches at rooftop parking level, a concert hall and a training and education centre.

Moorgarth Retail has owned Market Place since 2014 and has since been responsible for a program of improvements including the development of the cinema and the opening of the Vaults area. The former department store has a central atrium letting daylight into the unit and containing five rows of escalators connecting it to the parking lot above. The total area of ​​the old store is approximately 11,000 m²

A design and access published by Bolton Council this week shows the plans in more detail.

Artist’s impression of the transformation of Debenhams in Bolton – proposed new first floor courtyard Credit: Moorsgarth Retail via ldrs

He said: “In the basement, around 950 m² are to be transformed into a venue for events and music. On the ground floor, conversions will be made to form an education and training facility. At the roof level of the car park, we will replace 151 parking spaces to form outdoor football pitches and padel courts.

“The ground floor is to be converted into a self-contained unit suitable and attractive for a large space user with a basement warehouse directly connected to the loading dock.

“Primary access to the new music and events venue will be through the existing gates opening onto Bridge Street. This entrance will be enhanced with a glazed canopy to provide both shelter and significance to the new entrance.

The plans add that the first floor is to be divided into several units, one of which will house a music school and the rest will be divided into smaller, more flexible units.

Football pitches would be built at car park levelCredit: Moorsgarth

In July it was announced that Debenhams’ plans were one of three new developments included in a £20m investment offer.

It was not revealed whether the offer was successful. The bid would also create a modern hotel and convention complex on the southern slope of Le Mans Crescent and open up a historic heritage district.

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