"Stupid idea:" Fury erupts over plans to turn Doncaster Debenhams store into cinema

Fury has erupted after plans were unveiled to turn Doncaster’s redundant Debenhams store into a six screen cinema.
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Frenchgate bosses have applied to convert the huge flagship store - which shutdown in 2021 - into a state of the art movie complex boasting a numer of different sized audiotoriums, food, drink and snack bars and a lounge and foyer area.

But angry Doncaster residents have blasted the proposal, with many describing it as “stupid,” “a waste of money” and “the last thing Doncaster needs.”

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Rather than reacting with delight to the scheme, many residents have questioned the need for three cinemas in the city, following on from the opening of the Savoy in Sir Nigel Gresley Square in 2020 and the long-established Vue complex at Lakeside.

Plans have been unveiled to convert Doncaster's Debenhams store into a cinema.Plans have been unveiled to convert Doncaster's Debenhams store into a cinema.
Plans have been unveiled to convert Doncaster's Debenhams store into a cinema.

One said: “Doncaster doesn't need another cinema especially not one situated in a shopping mall.”

Another posted: “No good having another cinema when all that money been spent on the new Savoy,” while another wrote: “How many cinemas does Doncaster need? It needs another store that houses many different shops.”

One simply wrote: “Waste of money,” while another added: “What a totally stupid idea.”

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Another added: “Would be better as a giant kids arena with cafe/pub inside with a fun crazy golf.”

Another wrote: “We don’t need another cinema – more shops needed - Marks and Spencer should take it over.”

“How many cinemas do we need?,” wrote another, while another post said: “Frenchgate needs high end retail shops, not another cinema.”

“Ridiculous – there are already two cinemas in town Vue and Savoy why do we need another?,” commented another.

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“Absolutely stupid idea,” added another. The last thing Doncaster needs.”

The huge Frenchgate store, which closed its doors for the last time in 2021, could be given a new lease of life as a state of the art movie complex with plans already submitted to Doncaster Council and which are due to be discussed by councillors later this year.

The plans have been sumbitted by Frenchgate general manager Paddy Mellon on behalf of developers Pegasus Group and if given the green light would see two 154-seat auditoriums and smaller screen rooms seating 112, 110, 88 and 69 people respectively built inside the cavernous building which was the centre’s flagship store before its closure.

Plans had already been submitted to Doncaster Council last year and approved, but have now been amended to include extra screens.

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Debenhams closed its doors in Doncaster in May 2021, just 15 years after the store was first opened as part of a new and extended Frenchgate in 2006.

The store closed after the company suffered financial difficulties and entered administration twice, in April 2019 and April 2020, finally collapsing in November 2020.

The Debenhams brand and website were purchased by the online retailer Boohoo for £55m in January 2021. However, Boohoo did not retain any stores, meaning the loss of up to 12,000 jobs.

It meant an end to the brand on the UK High Street after 243 years in business.