Councillors have called for Lichfield’s former Debenhams store to be converted into an indoor food market in order to prevent the building standing empty.
The retailer shut its doors earlier this month as part of the complete closure of the company’s entire high street presence.
The demise of Debenhams in the Three Spires Shopping Centre follows the departure of the unit’s previous tenant TJ Hughes.
But two Lib Dem councillors have called for a rethink on the way the shop space might be used in future.
Cllr Paul Ray and Cllr Hugh Ashton said in a joint statement:
“In the current economic climate, it is hard to imagine another major chain leasing the whole of the space for retail purposes.
“Rather than see it left as an empty eyesore, we have been considering ways in which the space could be used for the benefit of the community.
“The ground floor could be sublet to foodstuff traders who wish to maintain a city presence but cannot afford a full shop unit. This would create a kind of indoor market, similar to that seen in many European cities.
“This would help cement Lichfield’s already established reputation as a unique shopping centre with a focus on craft and artisan food retail.
“Though it is unlikely that all the space available would be used at first, it is easy enough to partition off the unused space, and to make extra space available at seasonal peaks.”Cllr Paul Ray and Cllr Hugh Ashton
The councillors said the proposal would create another reason for visitors to make a journey to Lichfield.
They also believe the upper floors could be converted into an ‘incubator space’ for new start-ups.
“The location is close to a large car park, and bus and rail stations, meaning that it could be used by those within public transportation range of Lichfield as an alternative to Birmingham.
“Clearly these are just proposals, but we are keen to see the Conservative-led councils take a proactive role here.”Cllr Paul Ray and Cllr Hugh Ashton