From Art Battles to a £500m Hospital: What's Happening with Debenhams in Stockport?

Following the closure of the department store in the centre of the town, Stockport Council has been looking to find alternative uses for the building...

By Manchester's Finest | Last updated 19 July 2022

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Debenhams went into administration in 2020 after 242 years of trading, closing all of its 124 stores by 2021, including the huge Art Deco beauty, the Rylands Building, at the top of Market Street in the city centre.

Also closed is the decidedly more brick and concrete-laden monstrosity in Stockport – a store that had been open for 45 years, and now faces a rather uncertain future in the town. In fact, the building itself was acquired by Stockport Council all the way back in 2012, and now that Debenhams is no more – speculation is rife about the future use of the building.

According to the Council, the long-term plans revolve around redeveloping the site into a brand-new £500m hospital, however plans for this are “at a very early stage and any development of the site is unlikely to happen in the short to medium term”, according to the council.


As a result, they’ve been in talks with their ‘Town Centre Task Force‘ about how best to use the building over the next five to seven years to generate income and bring much-needed animation to that end of town.

And so, plans to convert the town centre building and let it out to commercial occupiers are now underway, converting the building into a mixed-use scheme with a leisure element.

One of the first events to be held here will be the upcoming Art Battle Manchester on Friday 23rd September from 7pm – 11pm – one of its first steps “as the famous building begin its next chapter.

Since it started in 2013, Art Battle Manchester has delivered 19 sold-out events, never using the same venue twice. They clearly have a penchant for bringing the off-beat lively event to stunning buildings, as recent venues include London Road Fire Station, Albert Hall, The Royal Exchange, Victoria Baths, Escape to Freight Island, and an array of historic mills and warehouses. They have never previously done battle in a shop though, until now.

Art Battle Manchester 20: Upbeat On The High Street – will feature ten new fearless artists taking centre stage. A capacity crowd will watch painters, illustrators, tattooists and street artists go head-to-head in what has been described as the city’s most energetic art event. With only 30 minutes to create a masterpiece – YOU will decide who is crowned Champion.

Co-Founder John Macaulay explained “We help turn artists into ‘art stars’ and the huge crowd – many of whom have never set foot in an art gallery – really play their part too. It’s art for the people, by the people.”

“It was a no-brainer to come to Stockport; there’s a thriving cultural scene and a strong independent vibe. There will be a festival atmosphere on the night and some of Stockport’s top artists hoping for victory with home advantage”

So hopefully we’ll see more and more independent events and opportunities arising from the Debenhams site in Stockport over the next few years. Starting things off with an Art Battle Manchester event is a great way to get things moving – and so keep an eye and an ear out on future plans and announcements.


Art Battle Manchester 20: Upbeat on the High Street

Date: Friday 23rd September
Time: 7pm – 11pm
Venue: Debenhams in Stockport
Cost: £15

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