Plans for redevelopment of Nasons Department Store site unveiled

After standing vacant for more than a year, proposals have come forward to redevelop the site of the former Nasons Department Store and other buildings following its recent purchase.

Named Biggleston Yard, the proposals reconnect the Nasons site back to its industrial past but also create an exciting new future for it with plans for high-quality retailing. The redevelopment would offer a focus on food and drink by incorporating a pedestrian retail arcade and ‘market hall’, with open space and public realm in the heart of Canterbury.

The proposed development reflects the area’s commercial and industrial heritage around the former foundry and forge within the site by also providing commercial retail and office space, alongside 28 serviced apartments, a further 38 residential units and space for community uses.

Since completing the purchase of the 0.31 hectare site, London-based property investor and development company Setha Group has worked closely with two award-winning firms of architects, Child Graddon Lewis and Clague Architects, to bring forward the proposals.

Manuel Alsoni, Chief Executive Officer, Setha Group, said:

“We are very excited about the project as it provides the opportunity to bring forward another high-quality development in the heart of one of England’s best-known medieval cities.
“Like every city, Canterbury is having to respond to the everchanging retail and leisure demands of residents and visitors alike, as well as the challenge presented by online retailers. We believe Biggleston Yard would play an important part in enhancing the ongoing appeal of the city centre as a destination already synonymous with quality.”

Until 1963, the site was home to HM Biggleston & Sons, a six-generation family business that produced iron castings, railway girders, lamp posts and other street furniture, many of the latter can still to be found around the city centre.

During the site’s ownership by the Biggleston family, and predecessors Drury & Co, there was a foundry and forge on the western part of the site built in the mid-19th century. These two buildings have been incorporated into the Biggleston Yard proposals, as has the late-19th century Foresters Hall and associated buildings which butt up to the churchyard of the former St Margaret’s Church (currently Canterbury Tales) at the rear.

Accessed from the High Street, the eastern part of Biggleston Yard would offer a covered retail arcade, a ‘market hall’ and restaurants linking through to the new public open space to the south. The new buildings, ranging from three to five storeys high, would incorporate the listed buildings at 46 High Street and Foresters Hall.

If granted permission, the western part of the site would be repurposed to include flexible commercial floorspace on the ground floor and flats on the upper floors. A group of new buildings would be centred around a public courtyard and crossed by a pedestrian alley connecting White Horse Lane and the new public open space to the east.

The proposals will be the subject of a two-day public exhibition between 2pm and 8pm on Thursday 5th December and noon until 8pm on Friday 6th December at the former Nasons Department Store at 47 High Street.

Further information on the proposals is available at