A new shop desperately needs to open up at the site of the old Co-op in Eastwood, according to residents and business owners in the town.
Brian Griffin, who was born and bred in Eastwood, said the Co-op was the central hub of the town, and because the building has been left empty for so long it has dragged Eastwood down and affected its footfall.
“It’s been shut for a year and a half. That building looks like it’s been burnt out. It looks terrible. They have taken all the soffit and fascia off and it’s a bad image because it’s right opposite the car park right in the centre of town.
“The town isn’t as vibrant as it used to be,” he said,
“It has really suffered.”
Mr Griffin said the town shopkeepers were struggling.
“They can’t make a business without a footfall.
“People say it’s like a ghost town on a Saturday.
“It’s up to the people of Eastwood to fight to keep shops open or Eastwood will just go further downhill.”
Lynn Cross owns Cards Galore in the town.
She said: “It looks awful and apart from Iceland and Heron, which are both frozen food places, there’s nowhere to do your food shopping in Eastwood now.
“People are going elsewhere. All it’s doing is sending shoppers elsewhere,” she said.
Eastwood town councillor Ken Woodhead called the building ‘a disgrace’.
“Something should be done about it. It’s just a total disgrace.
“It’s an eyesore now. The frontage needs sorting out and someone needs to take it on.”
But Mr Griffin, of Chewton Street, said it was important the replacement shop was not a cafe, nail bar or hairdressing salon.
“We need more diversity of shops. The Hidden Bakery that’s just opened at Hilltop is an example of something that’s more exclusive. Great artisan bread, handmade cakes. We need more shops like that – with a different vision.
“I don’t mind what the Co-op is, as long as it’s lit up. The people of Eastwood just want it used again.
“It’s integral for the town centre.
The back of the store has plenty of parking, and the size of the building is so big, it could even be split into three shops, he said.
“A spokesperson for Central England Co-op said: “Our Eastwood Food Store closed in January 2017.
“Since that point we have been working hard to find a tenant for the site and were in advance negotiations with a third party until recently. “However, they now have pulled out of the negotiations and we are actively marketing the site and are hopeful of finding a new tenant.”