HOMES could be built on the former Debenhams store in the Royals Shopping Centre as a new owner is set to take over the site.

The centre is being sold by Savills and the firm’s bosses say the store, which closed on Friday, would make a perfect spot for a restaurant and new flats with sea views.

Business bosses have given a mixed reaction to the potential of homes replacing the former department store.

Toby Ogilvie Smals, 43, director in the investment team at Savills, said: “The sale is quite close and the buyer is a shopping centre operator who is looking to invest and add value to the centre.


“They could be looking to add flats but this is up to the buyer. We have put it under offer which gives this buyer exclusively.

“I think the completion of the sale will be in next month and a half.

“I think homes would work well on the former Debenhams site for a number of reasons.

“These homes would have sea views, it’s a great location and position for homes and I know more homes in the area is a big drive for the council too.”

He said if homes were built to replace part of the Royals Shopping Centre it would need to be flats and not houses.

Echo: Plans - The Royals Shopping CentrePlans - The Royals Shopping Centre

The estate agency boss said he thinks there would need to be a restaurant or bar on the ground floor if homes are added to the centre.

He also said it would need to offer a mixture of homes, including affordable flats.

Business owners have given a mixed reaction to the possibility of homes being built.

George Bejko-Cowlbeck, 30, director of Caddies indoor crazy golf course in Southend lives above the Victoria Shopping Centre. He backs the idea of homes at the Royals Shopping Centre.

He said: “Any development in the high street including new homes or leisure venues can only be a positive thing.

“If you look at Lakeside, residential does form a big part of the area. Anything like this that increases footfall is going to benefit us and other businesses and I welcome it.

“I live above the Victoria Shopping Centre and I know people like the more metropolitan style of living.

“For me and our business I can only see the positives of this.”

Savills is working on behalf of Cromwell Property Group to sell The Royals Shopping Centre, which is on the market for £13.42million. It currently has stores including Boots, TK Maxx, Tesco, Poundland and H&M.

But not everyone is sold on the idea of homes. Khaledon Begem, manager of Grape Tree in the centre has concerns.

She said: “I think the centre should stay as only shops as it will attract more people in.

“I worry that having homes in the place of Debenhams will affect trade badly and I am unsure if people would want to live there.”