Published: Wednesday, 22nd June 2022

We have purchased the former Debenhams building in Chatham as part of our ambitious regeneration programme.

We purchased the building for £2,205,000, using funding from the government’s Future High Streets Fund.

The acquisition of the Debenhams building further supports our aim to regenerate the high street and increase footfall to the town centre.

We are reviewing options for the future of the vacant building, with the aim of providing a town centre location that drives growth, improves visitor experience and ensures future sustainability whilst supporting residents’ needs.

Chatham is fast becoming known as Medway’s emerging city centre and is described as a city in all but name. The town has seen heavy investment over recent years, from the Chatham Placemaking project to funding for major improvements at historic landmarks – all part of Medway’s Council’s efforts to help high streets thrive.

In January 2021, we received £9,497,720 from the fund which aims to transform high streets into vibrant hubs for future generations and to protect, and create jobs. The remaining funding will be invested in a number of exciting projects in the heart of Chatham including reconfiguring the first floor of the Pentagon Shopping Centre for community use; delivering a creative and collaborative workspace at The Brook Theatre to support the development of the area’s creative sector; creating an innovation hub to support business start-ups and refurbishing the vacant St John’s Church, which is part of the Church of England Diocese of Rochester. The Grade II listed church will be restored as a place of worship and have community areas redeveloped to provide conference and event spaces for the creative and digital sectors. 

The Future High Streets Fund is also being used to transform The Paddock (the space between Chatham Waterfront Bus Station and the Pentagon Shopping Centre) into a vibrant public space for residents and visitors to enjoy. The improvements will celebrate the area’s heritage and make the area more accessible.

Last year we were also awarded £14.4million from the government’s Levelling Up Fund which will be invested in three projects to further support the establishment of Chatham as Medway’s city centre - The Docking Station, The Brook Theatre and The Fitted Rigging House which will support the area’s flourishing creative sector and provide further opportunities for economic growth.

Helping to shape the future of Chatham

Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “We are committed to supporting our high streets and the acquisition of the former Debenhams building is the latest step to help regenerate Chatham town centre. This large retail store has remained vacant for some time and we are reviewing plans on how best to put it back into use.

“By acquiring buildings in our high streets, like The Pentagon Shopping Centre and Mountbatten House, we are able to help shape the future of the area. These acquisitions, alongside Medway Development Company’s Waterfront and Garrison Point developments - which will provide high-quality housing in the centre of Chatham, will bring more opportunities to our emerging city centre and demonstrates our commitment to ensuring Medway continues to thrive by supporting the local economy, businesses and provide more jobs.”

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