A BIG-NAME department store brand should replace the Debenhams unit in the Royals Shopping Centre, Echo readers have insisted after plans to transform it into a bustling hub for independent traders were thrown out.

On Monday, the Utilize Project, a London-based firm who transform disused spaces into multi-purpose hubs for community use, confirmed to the Echo it had pulled the plug on the Southend plan due to it being “unfeasible and not working in terms of logistics”.

The Debenhams store has stood empty at the bottom of Southend High Street since May 2021.

Echo: Non-existent - Royals Shopping Centre's DebenhamsNon-existent - Royals Shopping Centre's Debenhams (Image: Google Maps)

Now, readers have been throwing ideas across social media with department stores, such as Marks and Spencer and John Lewis being frequent responses.

Sabrina Lagden said: “Move Marks and Spencer into the former unit.

“I feel like they could really benefit from that location for its size, and they can expand on brands they sell in their capital stores, I.e., London, but wouldn't sell in their smaller stores if that makes any logical sense at all.”

Echo: Idea - Marks and SpencerIdea - Marks and Spencer (Image: PA)

Janet Folley wrote: “Any decent store like John Lewis.”

Echo: Idea - John LewisIdea - John Lewis (Image: PA)

While Stephen Pudney jokingly penned the “return of Keddies”, which was a landmark department store from 1892 to 1996 that had many different stores, such as HMV and Tie Rack.

Echo: Icon - KeddiesIcon - Keddies (Image: Newsquest)

The ideas floating around come as the original plan derailed due to the space being too big and mounting costs, which stemmed from no sponsorship.

However, Sonny Shahnawaz - who was behind the project - has insisted he is looking for another location for the scheme.

Daniel Nelson, Southend Conservative councillor responsible for economic growth and investment, agreed that a big tenant should take up the space.

He said: “A brand like John Lewis and Marks and Spencer would be perfect because the unit is very large, so we need to think of a large name.

“A department store is something they can bring in, and it will attract more people to come down to Southend, resulting in more investment for the economy.

“The council will back whatever the Royals Shopping Centre picks, as long as it is in line with planning policies."