Princesshay’s owners have applied for planning permission to convert the top floor of the former Debenhams store into a cinema and cafe/bar.
The conversion would involve raising most of the roof line by between 2.5 and 3.5 metres to accommodate the height of four cinema screens, and the conversion of part of the ground floor to provide dedicated access to the complex, which would include a foyer and bar/restaurant.
Tenants are being sought for the rest of the former Debenhams store. The ground, first and second floors will remain separately accessible.
The proposals have been developed in consultation with Exeter City Council, Historic England and the Dean of Exeter Cathedral.
Discussions began in November 2019 when Debenhams were seeking to downsize and planned to vacate the top floor and “consolidate its trading in floors ground to second”. Debenhams went into administration in April 2020.
The application, which is for a change of use from retail to cinema with ancillary bar/restaurant facilities, states that the proposed cinema operator cannot be named at this stage because of “commercial confidentiality”.
It says that views of the cathedral from the foyer were a key consideration for the cinema operator in choosing a site in the shopping centre.
There are fourteen screens at four cinemas in Exeter city centre, all of which are currently closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Vue has seven, the Odeon four, Exeter Picturehouse two and Studio 74 at Exeter Phoenix has one.
Two of these cinemas also have ancillary cafe/bars: Exeter Picturehouse and Studio 74 at Exeter Phoenix.
Exeter City Council will consider the application at a later date. More details are available on the city council planning portal.