The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Positive signs for Eastbourne Department Store

PD Stoneham’s 1926 department store building for Dale and Kerley, later part of the T J Hughes chain.

Image: Alamy

A positive update on one of our key cases in our C20 Department Stores Campaign – the former TJ Hughes building in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

Dating from the 1926 and designed by architect PD Stoneham for local drapery business Dale and Kerley, the building occupies a prominent position in the town centre and is a valuable contributor to the Seafront Conservation Area. Once one of the finest department stores in the region, local press at the time of its opening admiringly commented: “In elevation [the] premises will represent to Eastbourne what Woolworth’s premises represent to New York.”

The building was taken over by discount retail chain T J Hughes in the 1990’s and eventually closed in 2019, remaining unoccupied ever since. Plans were tabled by developers Capreon/the Rachel Charitable Trust in November 2021 for a complete demolition of the store and redevelopment into mixed commercial and residential use, with a painfully bland replacement block proposed for the key corner site.

This met with significant local opposition and was strongly objected to by C20 Society, Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce and the Eastbourne Society, being described as nothing short of ‘vandalism’.

The original proposals (bottom) and the revised proposals (top) by developers Capreon/the Rachel Charitable Trust.

Image: Sussex Express

Revised plans have now emerged, which would see the façade retained and restored, the ground floor remaining for commercial use and 65 apartments of various sizes accommodated in the upper floors. In addition, a communal garden for residents, 70 cycle spaces, and two disabled parking spaces would be included in the scheme.

C20 Society joins the Eastbourne Society and Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce  in welcoming the change of direction with these latest plans, though we urge the developer to also incorporate the striking glazed dome and stained glass skylights from the former third floor dining room, and look forward to reviewing detailed proposals at the pre-application stage.

For more information on our C20 department stores campaign, see our ‘One Year On’ Report from April 2022 and search the full list of stores at risk here.

The building has remained unoccupied since TJ Hughes vacated the site in 2019

Image: Sussex World