'Try the city centre being more than shops' - Echo readers have their say on future of Sunderland's Debenhams site

As shoppers wait to see what will become of Sunderland’s former Debenhams store, Echo readers have put their ideas forward for the site’s future.

Saturday, 13th November 2021, 12:13 pm

Sharon Appleby, chief executive at the Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID), this week told a meeting that discussions are in hand over what will occupy the building next.

And as work continues towards the site’s future, Ms Appleby said the replacement for the department store – which closed for the final time in May – would be “better than what went before”.

She added: “That will be more of a leisure, experiential offering, a food and drink offering and an entertainment type of offering.”

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When Debehams shut up shop in spring, the most popular suggestions among Echo readers included a leisure centre, food court or new department store.

As the update on plans for the site’s future was revealed this week, Wearside shoppers once again highlighted their hopes for what the building could become.

What are you hoping for?

Sunderland's Debenhams store closed in May this year.

Here are some of your latest suggestions from the Sunderland Echo Facebook page:

Margo Lax: “Making it a multi-store with different shops sounds good.”

Margaret Thompson: “A food hall like you get in other main cities, eat around the world, all kinds of cuisine – each having their own stall and central seating.”

Kristian Brown: “How about a big soft play, Fun Shack-style, few arcades and should really look into opening the ice rink, and a site for a leisure pool, with slides and wave machines.”

Andrea Bell: “Couldn’t we try something like a science museum? Interactive items inside, lots of activities that you can take part in yet educating and loads of fun. Maybe try the city centre being more than shops?

Harvey Gill: “Food court and bars etc, mini golf, ample parking and good location. No brainer really!”

Peter Smith: “The old BHS in Oxford Street London has done this it works a treat.”

Chris Barron: “A version of The Gate would be my suggestion.”

Carole Huitson: “Sunderland needs our leisure centre back! The kids of today need this, to build memories like we did at Crowtree.”

Alison Mason: “We need another department store. Anything less would be a travesty.”

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