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Newport Debenhams empty again after health board closes vaccine centre

The former Debenhams store in Friars Walk, Newport (Pic: LDRS)

THE FORMER Debenhams store in Newport is empty once again after the health board closed down its Covid-19 vaccine centre there.

The booster programme for coronavirus jabs will no longer be held at mass vaccination centres, a spokeswoman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said.

Debenhams’ UK high street operations ended in May 2021, and the large Newport unit – originally conceived as the “anchor” store for the Friars Walk shopping centre – has remained empty, save for its use as one of the health board’s jab centres.

But that work ended in February, the health board spokeswoman confirmed, adding that for spring booster jabs it would run a series of “pop-up vaccination clinics at a number of locations across Gwent, as needed”.

Debenhams remains empty, and a spokesperson for Friars Walk declined to comment on whether there were any plans in place for its future.

A number of other former Debenhams stores nationwide face similar uncertainty.

A spokesperson for Newport City Council noted the unit was part of the privately-owned Friars Walk centre, but said the local authority “continues to work with a range of partners on potential opportunities for properties in the city centre, including the former Debenhams store”.

The council spokesperson added: “Officers have regular meetings with the operators and there is a collective effort to bring the space back into use.”

Newport Council is currently preparing a new placemaking plan – a strategy for redeveloping and regenerating the city centre.