Guildford’s former Debenhams store could be redeveloped for 215 homes, 21,000 sq ft of retail and almost an acre of riverside open space under plans submitted by Native Land.

The developer has submitted plans for the mixed-use scheme, to be known as St Mary’s Wharf, to replace the 310,000 sq ft store.

It will feature two new buildings of eight and nine storeys, designed by architect Squire & Partners to respect the surrounding heritage of the area.

Residential units will range from studio flats to one, two and three-bedroom homes with retail units for shops, cafes and bars on the ground floors.

The open space will include a new civic square with community pavilion, a ‘pocket park’ and a riverside walk, giving access from the High Street to the River Wey for the first time in 50 years. There will be landing points for a future pedestrian footbridge to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.

Native Land says its proposal for the 1.7-acre site will provide new fossil-fuel free buildings with zero emissions and a biodiverse environment for the long term.

Managing director acquisitions Robert Harris said: “We know from our extensive consultation with the community that people would like to see the riverside opened up as a new and sustainable destination that will complement Guildford town centre.

“Our plans for St Mary’s Wharf aim to transform the outdated Debenhams building into a high-quality development with significant public space improvements, a riverside walkway, landscaping, and park, with new places to eat, drink and shop.”

Henry Squire of Squire & Partners, said: “Our planning application reflects the latest evolution of our designs for St Mary’s Wharf, aiming to create an impressive gateway development which links the High Street to the River Wey while blending with the surrounding townscape and respecting views of the town.”

The development is expected to create more than 415 construction jobs and up to 100 jobs in retail.

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