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Letter: Re-purposing Debenham’s is the Best Option

Published on: 17 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 17 Jan, 2022

The existing Debenhams building and the proposed St Mary’s Wharf.

From: Bibhas Neogi

In response to: Debenhams Worst Outcome Would be to Lose Control of Our Town

As far as I am aware, this site is not within the conservation area. I have commented on this proposal before and I said that I liked the architecture but wondered if the height could be reduced a bit especially of the northern block.

Re-purposing a building of this size, if it could be done, is probably the best outcome. It saves the cost of demolition and all the problems of carting away the debris and bringing in new material.

This is also a site next to a busy road and therefore maintaining reasonable traffic and at a safe distance away from plants are also factors that have to be considered carefully.

I assume the developers have taken these into account in forming their proposals. The Guildford Society had given their ideas of how this building could be re-purposed but I am not aware whether the developers had considered these and had ruled them out as not viable as it would not allow the return they want from their investment.

The building is too deep for conversion into apartments even half its depth is too deep. However, removing a strip in the middle to expose the area to daylight could create an atrium but its shape would depend on the position of the existing columns etc. A couple of floors on top, increasing the height by some five metres, could be added to increase the number of apartments.

Communal use of space as suggested by the Guildford Society is somewhat uncertain following the Covid-19 experience, so adds to the complexity in the evaluation of options.

If the developer could afford to lower the height of the buildings, I think the proposal would be a better replacement provided, of course, construction could be carried out safely.

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test One Response to Letter: Re-purposing Debenham’s is the Best Option

  1. Janet Moorhouse Reply

    January 18, 2022 at 5:56 pm

    Re-purposing Debenhams Guildford would be a better environmental decision. Construction is very damaging to the planet and re-use of existing buildings anywhere causes less pollution than building new ones. The level of pollution in London is due, in part, to the constant development of sites and the heavy lorry movement within it.

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