A run-down empty charity shop is just one of many things putting shoppers off a section of Marlowes, according to disgruntled businessmen operating in the area.
The Healthy Planet Books For Free store halfway along the road was forced to close almost a year ago when a leak damaged the electrics, but its revival has been hampered by ongoing safety issues as a result of the problem.
Healthy Planet charity founder Shaylesh Patel said: “Our plan to re-open the Books For Free shop on Marlowes has gone a bit backwards because the state of the building is worse than we expected.
“We are talking to the landlords to figure out the long-term plan, and work is being done.
“We have not written off Hemel Hempstead – if we have to lose a unit it would be nice for us to return somewhere else in the town.”
The dishevelled-looking unit is not the only empty store on the stretch of Marlowes between Market Square and Cafe Roastino.
Books For Free is flanked on either side by the empty buildings previously housing fast-food outlet McDonalds and Sandersons 99p store. It is neighboured further down by the former Rennie Grove Hospice Care charity shop, which moved further along Marlowes in order to pick up increased footfall at the busier end of the town centre.
Nirbal Singh, who runs Pick and Save convenience store in the area, said: “We look forward to seeing the Books For Free shop reopen.
“It is always better to have shops open down here, but we have heard people saying it has closed and moved on.
“It is in quite a state, you can see all the things lying on the floor.”
Sandwich chain Subway branch manager Abdel Oubaziz said: “It is a bad thing. We need more business at this end of town, or I can’t see us surviving very long.
“The shops here look ugly and it puts people off. It looks like the dodgy side of town.”