A MAJOR retailer is in talks to take over the former Haldanes store in Belper, despite some claims that the building may be affected by trains using the nearby rail line.
The Co-op, which has owned the building since 2009, confirmed this week that discussions with an interested party were at an early stage.
It has said it is not aware of any issues with the structure of the building, but having been made aware of concerns from some quarters in the town, it would now investigate.
However, officials from the supermarket chain are now set to carry out an inspection of its foundations following reports that the vibration of trains travelling underneath the building on the Midland Main Line had affected them.
The King Street store has stood empty since June, last year, when 40 people were made redundant as Haldanes closed. Many had worked at the store, a former Somerfield, for years.
Belper mayor Cllr Alan Cox, said: “I’m very pleased there’s some interest being shown – there’s nothing worse than empty shops in the town centre.
“However, it’s a sixties-type construction and was made when they didn’t build things right and that could inhibit its re-use. Trains are much more powerful now than they were in the 1960s, they aren’t run on steam any more.”
The store has previously been linked with Wilkinsons, which already has a smaller-sized shop in King Street. However a spokesman was not prepared to confirm whether the chain store was still interested this week.
Leader of Belper Town Council, Cllr John Nelson, said: “The building has got to be brought back into use. We need someone like M&S, a national chain store that expresses Belper and will bring people into the town. But if the structure isn’t right it’s got to be sorted.”
Commercial real estate firm CBRE is marketing the building to prospective buyers. The 20,725 sq ft store costs £151,750 a year to rent.
A spokesperson for The Co-operative, said: “The building on King Street was acquired by The Co-operative when it purchased the Somerfield chain in 2009 and it is now actively marketing the property. There has been recent interest, however, it is too early to add anything further at this stage.
“Although not aware of any issues or concerns relating to the building’s structure The Co-operative is a community retailer itself and, with matters now raised, it will investigate.”