Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Empty store provokes business row

Debenhams building
Shopkeepers said plans to invest in the area had been shelved

Calls are being made for the future of the a Derby landmark to be decided.

The old Debenhams building, in the Becketwell area, has been empty for 18 months since the store located to the new Westfield shopping centre.

The city council has also just removed it from a shortlist of potential buildings to base its headquarters.

Local shopkeepers said the lack of progress was harming the area and their businesses. Westfield said they were actively seeking new tenants.

James Bedett, who runs a shop in Green Lane, said having the large empty property opposite was hurting trade.

Grim future

"I look at it every day and all I can see is hoardings and boards which are directing you up to the Westfield centre and it is getting worse and worse at this end of town.

"Personally I think it could still be like this in two or three years' time."

He added: "We are just trying to survive from day to day".

Steve Frost, who owns the nearby Music Man shop, said: "Ten years ago there were plans submitted to redevelop this area from Macklin Street to Victoria Street, from Green Lane to Colyear Street. It was going to cost something like 100m to 150m.

"But from my own point of view as soon as the Westfield plans went in, which wasn't long after, we knew the writing was on the wall, that Westfield would get it and this area would fall into disrepair."

Westfield declined to comment but had previously said they were looking for the best deal for the area.

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