DUNELM has officially scrapped plans to open a store in Southend’s Royals Shopping Centre, with councillors admitting it is a huge blow.

The furniture and homeware giant had been eyeing up the former Primark shop in the shopping centre.

But with the sale of the Royals Shopping Centre still incomplete, the Echo understands, Dunelm bosses switched their attention to other possible sites.

A huge new Dunelm opened at Basildon’s Mayflower Retail Park in April, and with a shop also in Chelmsford, a store in Southend has been deemed surplus to requirements.

Senior councillors say it is regrettable as it would have been an asset to the town centre.

Carole Mulroney, Lib Dem councillor responsible for tourism, said: “I think this is a great shame, I like Dunelm and shop at the Chelmsford store.

“The new Basildon one is quite close but it would have been a very welcome addition here in Southend.

“It sells almost everything and in Southend we are really lacking a store like this that selling a huge range of items.

“It would have been nice and a complementary addition to other businesses and the high street.

“I would be happy if they would reconsider the plans and we really need the Royals Shopping Centre to pursue another business to take up the unit.”

In May last year, Dunelm announced plans were on hold as the centre was up for sale.

Primark moved out of the centre last October to its new base at the old BHS building in the High Street.

Mrs Mulroney added: “The empty store in the shopping centre is just standing idle.

“It is regrettable that Dunelm is not coming to Southend soon as it would have been an asset for the town.

“I would like to see something done with the unit at the centre, perhaps a big firm take it up or separate it up into smaller units.”

A spokesman for Dunelm said: “We opened our Basildon store earlier this year on April 28 at the Mayflower Retail Park. We don’t currently have any plans to open another store in the Southend area.”