A major clothing retailer has denied rumours that it will be taking over Workington’s empty Debenhams store.

Primark has confirmed that it is not behind plans lodged with Allerdale Council which refer to a ‘leading national clothing retailer’ moving into the three-story building on Washington Square.

Rumours had begun circulating that Primark would be opening a store in west Cumbria after an application was submitted to replace the shop front on the former department store, ahead of a new occupier moving in.

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But the discount clothing company, which expanded into Cumbria in 2016 when it took over the former BHS department store in Carlisle, has said that it has not submitted the application for the empty Debenhams store in Workington.

TK Maxx has also been rumoured to be moving into the site but has not confirmed if it is the retailer behind the scheme. The applicant has chosen to remain anonymous at this stage. 

The building has stood empty since Debenhams closed its doors in May last year when the department store chain was plunged into administration nationally.

Mike Johnson, leader of Allerdale Council, and executive member for economic growth, community development and placemaking, has welcomed the plans.

He said: “It’s what we need. It’s been a great miss, Debenhams going but the operators of Washington Square have been working hard to find a new tenant and we’ve been supporting them in that. All being well, we will see that come to fruition very soon.”

The plans say that the “high-quality” external works proposed to the shopfront would be an improvement on the existing design and will meet the requirements of the new occupiers move to the premises.

A separate application for advertising consent will be lodged at a later date, the plans go on to say.

The £50 million Washington Square shopping centre replaced Workington’s rundown St John’s Arcade in 2006.

Debenhams was attracted as the anchor store for the scheme, which led to other big high street names coming to Workington for the first time – including River Island, HMV and Home Bargains.

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