Briggate Debenhams could soon become student flats

Early plans to convert one of the city’s best-known department stores into student flats is set to go before planning chiefs at a meeting next week.

By Richard Beecham
Thursday, 4th March 2021, 3:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th March 2021, 3:30 pm

The pre-application outlines proposals to convert the former Debenhams building on Briggate into “flexible commercial uses” – while adding two extra floors for student flats – some of which would be dual-occupancy rooms known as “twodios”.

According to a document produced by Leeds City Council planning officers, the basement, ground and first floors would remain for commercial use, while student accommodation would be added on the second and third floors.

A two-storey roof extension to replace the existing roof extension built in the 1990s is also included. This would be given over to student accommodation and would, in total, be made up of 124 “bedspaces” in 90 studio flats, and 17 “duel occupancy” studios, which the document dubs “twodios”.

The former Debenhams building in Briggate.

The studios would range from 20-28 square metres in floorspace, while the “twodios” would range, from 32-54 square metres.

Communal areas will also be included in the plans, including a new “courtyard wellness garden” from the second floor up, as well as another space on the roof area.

The report stated: “It has been established that there are approximately 38,000 university students in the city presently without access to purpose-built student accommodation, suggesting that additional provision of such accommodation is unlikely to result in an over-supply of purpose-built student accommodation in the near future.

“(Leeds’s planning strategy) states that growth in new purpose built student accommodation is to be welcomed in order to meet need and to deflect pressure away from private rented houses in areas of over-concentration.”

It was announced back in January that Leeds’s Briggate and White Rose Shopping Centre Debenhams stores would close permanently after the brand was purchased by online fashion retailer Boohoo.

Although members will be invited to comment on the proposals, a full planning application for the scheme is yet to be submitted.