Three former BHS stores in Norwich, Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth still standing empty a year after closure

The BHS on St Stephen's Street in Norwich. PIcture: Archant

The BHS on St Stephen's Street in Norwich. PIcture: Archant - Credit: Archant

The prominent city centre site of a former department store in Norwich remains boarded up, a year after the business folded.

The BHS on St Stephen's Street in Norwich. PIcture: Archant

The BHS on St Stephen's Street in Norwich. PIcture: Archant - Credit: Archant

When BHS closed last summer, it saw 11,000 jobs lost, 22,000 pensions affected and a parliamentary inquiry into its former owners launched.

Stores in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft were among those which shut their doors in August 2016, and communities hoped the buildings - all in well-known high street spots - would soon be given new leases of life.

But now, a year on, all three remain closed - with the 45,000 square foot Norwich premises, which are owned by Aviva, still boarded up on central St Stephen's Street.

In March, it was revealed that discussions were ongoing with a new tenant for the site, at the time described as one of the largest retail spots in the centre, and the store remains under offer today.

BHS in Regent Street, Great Yarmouth. Picture: George Ryan

BHS in Regent Street, Great Yarmouth. Picture: George Ryan - Credit: George Ryan


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A planning application has also been lodged with Norwich City Council by Aviva Investors to see the back of the site revamped, creating an access route from the city's main bus station to St Stephen's Street.

It would tie in with approved plans to turn nearby St Stephen's Towers into student accommodation.

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But Adrian Fennell, a partner at Norwich-based Roche Chartered Surveyors, said: 'The Norwich BHS remains under offer, however due to the length of time that it has been under offer we are beginning to be courted by other retailers showing interest in the site.'

He said, as across the country, the size of the stores and the investment required to bring facilities up to scratch made securing new tenants difficult, particularly in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

The former BHS site on St Stephen's Street.

The former BHS site on St Stephen's Street. - Credit: Archant

Marketing on the Great Yarmouth shop, which sits on Regent Road and at the top of the main tourist route to the seafront, started over the last few weeks.

The Lowestoft store, on London Road North, also remains empty. On its online listing, KLM Retail describes the Suffolk shop as in 'arguably the most prime pitch in the town'.

The entrance porch to the Norwich site was boarded up in March after homeless people began sleeping there.

• Do you have a story we should be writing about? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

The Lowestoft BHS branch on its last day of trading.
PHOTO: Nick Butcher

The Lowestoft BHS branch on its last day of trading. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

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