Published: 06:00, 06 August 2020
The former Debenhams store in Folkestone could be temporarily turned into a souk.
This could see several traders setting up small businesses inside the now empty building in Sandgate Road.
The idea for a souk -which is an Arab market or marketplace - was unveiled by Cllr David Monk during Folkestone and Hythe District Council's (FHDC) virtual question and answer session.
He said that while plans for the future of the building are being worked on behind the scenes, interim ideas are also being developed.
He said: "I am actually looking into bringing forward something for the interim use and going out to consultation on that.
"I will stress interim use as it is the intention that the purchase will give us a return.
"There has has been a lot of talk about a souk or something like that."
Cllr Monk (Con) added however that this idea "has not been necessarily well received by the existing traders of the town".
His response was in answer to a question from Cllr Jackie Meade (Lab), who asked what the council's plans are for the future of the site, which has been empty since January.
Cllr Monk said: "We are working with a whole range of organisations on plans to redevelop the building and ensure it plays a role in the future of the town centre.
"Covid has had an impact on timing for this, but the town centre is a key part of our recovery plans.
"We will come forward with the propositions as fast as we can, as we want them out as fast as anybody."
Following the authority's purchase of the Folkestone building, FHDC revealed plans to turn it into a mixed-use development, including a health centre, leisure facilities, flexible work space and residential properties.
It is not known if this is still the council's ambition.
A spokesman for the council said: "The council is keen to hear all ideas - a name inspired by Folkestone’s culture or heritage for example, or a name that reflects its seaside location.
"Perhaps it will be a name which represents the town’s future or named after someone or something from the area."
CllrMonk added: “We are delighted to have acquired the building earlier this year and by doing so secure its future as a central part of Folkestone’s regeneration.
"We are now seeking a new name to reflect a new era for this iconic building.
"We would like to ask the community to help us find a really memorable and meaningful name for the site and we will consider all suggestions."
A panel of judges will select the winning entry, with the winner also set to receive £100 as a voucher to spend in a Folkestone town centre shop of their choice.
More details, terms and conditions and an online entry form can be found at www.folkestoneandhythe.co.uk/debenhams-naming-competition.
Entries can also be posted to Corporate Communications, Folkestone & Hythe District Council, Civic Centre, Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone CT20 2Q.
Entries should include your name, age (if under 16), address, daytime telephone number and a brief description of why you have chosen the name (up to 50 words).
The deadline for entries is Monday, August 31 and the winner will be unveiled in September.