No Debenhams in Dolphin Square

DEBENHAMS will not open a store in Weston’s new Dolphin Square after it pulled out of talks with developers.

This week’s announcement comes following months of discussions with McLaren Life about moving into the �45million retail area.

Last year the Mercury exclusively revealed Debenhams, Primark and River Island had held discussions about moving into the new Dolphin Square complex - but so far, no retailers have formally signed up.

And a spokesman for McLaren Life admitted it could still be months until any shopping retailers are confirmed.

Debenhams’ decision not to be a part of Dolphin Square comes just days before the third and final phase of the development begins when the old precinct is torn down.

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Building work has continued apace in recent months with the 112-bed Premier Inn hotel and Brewers Fayre restaurant due to open this autumn, while the newly-built Carlton Street car park has just been completed.

Although restaurant chains including Pizza Express, Prezzo and Nando’s, along with Vue Cinemas and First Bowl, have signed up to the project the lack of High Street retailers is likely to be a cause for concern.

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In a poll run on the Mercury website earlier this year, half of the voters said they wanted clothes shops more than anything else.

A McLaren Life spokesman said he hoped to be able to announce who will be filling the plots soon.

He said: “Discussions continue to take place with potential occupiers for phase three of Dolphin Square.

“No new occupiers have been signed up yet but McLaren Life is confident of securing more in the coming months.

“McLaren Life will only announce the details of any retailers when they have signed.”

A former market trader at Dolphin Square said she was unsurprised by the apparent lack of interest from High Street firms.

Sarah Schranz, who now is part of The Market Place in St James Street, originally enquired about getting an upgraded facility in the new Dolphin Square project, but was rebuffed because developers wanted other businesses there instead.

And with hindsight she is glad not to be a part of the redevelopment.

She said: “If I was a corporate company looking at Dolphin Square, I wouldn’t really be keen because there are a lot of empty units – like TJ Hughes – nearby.”

Demolition of the shopping precinct was originally planned for spring 2012 but was delayed after North Somerset Council requested staying longer in Somerset House after its Town Hall building project was delayed.

The McLaren Life spokesman added: “Demolition of the existing Dolphin Square, which is anticipated to take around three months, will start once the council has moved out during the last quarter of 2012.

“It is expected that construction of the new retail and leisure development will start in the first quarter of 2013. The build will take between six and nine months.

“This is the same timetable that has been in place for many months.”

When the work begins Oxford Street will be partly closed to traffic and Union Street made a one-way route.

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