What does future hold as fears voiced for Ilkeston town centre?

Former Woolworths which sits on Bath Street, Ilkeston
Former Woolworths which sits on Bath Street, Ilkeston

Fears have been voiced for the future of Ilkeston town centre amid bombshell news that yet another national name is set to leave.

As revealed last week, McDonald’s is ending a 28-year stay in the Albion Centre in favour of an out-of-town location.

It follows in the footsteps of last year’s hammer blow to trade when the landmark Co-op department store was axed.

Other big names to go in recent years have included the Woolworths store and Argos, with both of those premises standing empty and becoming eyesores.

Independent retailers are fighting hard to attract shoppers. But questions are now being asked over plans for the future.

Focusing on the McDonald’s move, Cllr Chris Corbett, leader of Erewash Borough Council, said the plans didn’t make sense.“With Derby College’s Ilkeston campus opening just around the corner, it would have made sense to me really to keep it there and see how well it did before closing it,” he said.

On the wider appeal of the town centre, he said: “It does worry me how many empty shops are lining our high street but we are doing out best to attract major retailers by writing letters to them and letting them know how attractive Ilkeston is. Of course there is only so much we can do as, depending on what type of business it is, there has to be money here for them.

The councillor went on to suggest that building flats in some areas of the town centre may be the way to salvage the high street.

“When we look back 100 years ago we had people living above retail units, the community were the ones looking after and giving value to their shopping centres,” he said. “Maybe this is something we could look into, as it would definitely bring more people in.”

With some empty units being a blot on the townscape on Bath Street and South Street, Cllr Corbett said: “It is a concerning time for the local high street, you don’t see as many people going to the grocer’s or butcher’s as much as the supermarket and even I’m guilty of using the internet for shopping.

“The problem we do have is that the more major retailers that disappear, the more independently run shops that may follow.”