A decision by shopping centre giant Hammerson to redevelop a former Debenhams store in Leicester into rental apartments has been heralded as a turning point for traditional high streets.
The announcement comes just five days after Hammerson posted its largest annual loss ever of £1.7 billion.
The firm’s UK and Ireland boss Mark Bourgeois says the landmark development follows huge changes to the shopping landscape as online shopping and Covid have impacted consumer behaviour.
Hammerson has announced that it has applied to Leicester City Council for change of use permission for the former retail store at High Cross, St Peter’s Lane (pictured).
“While the structural shift in retail and changing consumer shopping habits have meant that destinations such as Highcross need to adapt their offer and mix of uses, well-connected city centre locations such as this will always be places where people want to be,” he says.
Hammerson is working with build-to-rent developer and management specialist Packaged Living, which already operates some 2,000 units across the UK to prepare its planning proposals (see main pic) and redevelop the site.
The Leicester site is to hold 300 apartments all of which will be rented out and follows a consultation with local residents which saw 80% support the new approach for the site.
This is because, it is understood, the green and also high-quality apartments will be targeted at ‘local residents’.
“We are delighted to submit this proposal for high-quality homes for local people to rent, which will support our brands at Highcross and contribute to the continued success of Leicester City Centre,” says Bourgeois (pictured).
Read more about build to rent.