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New future for iconic former Southsea shops

Debenhams and Knight & Lee were much-loved landmarks in Southsea. Now, after much delay, their future is beginning to look clearer.

The twin iconic pillars of Palmerston Road, Debenhams (or Handleys) and John Lewis (or Knight & Lee) are moving towards re-development, despite delays caused Covid-19.

The shells of the former retail giants’ buildings, which have faced each other for decades, will be transformed by two developers.

Knight & Lee

The old and much-loved Knight and Lee has been closed for some time

In December 2019 THAT Group was given permission to add an extra storey to the 1950s John Lewis building so that it can include a bar and gym as well as a 43-bedroom hotel and a cinema.

Other new facilities could also be incorporated. An amended scheme is awaiting a planning decision.

The proposed South elevation, as seen from Clarendon Road
The proposed West elevation, as seen from the Palmerston Road pedestrian precinct

Debenhams / Handley’s Corner

Debenhams has been boarded-up for some time now, but development plans are well advanced

This December (2021), Portsmouth City Council voted final approval for converting the interior of the old Debenhams into 98 flats on the top four storeys above a ground floor GP surgery and dentists. After demolition of outbuildings at the rear of the shop, a three-storey block containing 36 flats will be built there.

Developer National Regional Property has also included 105 parking spaces on the Portland Road side of the site.

Work is expected to start at Debenhams by January 28, 2022.

Another image of the Debenhams/Handley’s Corner plans

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