Several councillors questioned the results from a planning company’s latest report based on The Broadway’s performance.

Members from Lichfields addressed their comparison findings from 2009 to 2018 at the latest Epping Forest District Council meeting on Thursday night.

Senior director Peter Wilkes presented the analysis which looked at the town centre's viability, trade performance and customer satisfaction, concluding little had changed.

He said: “The Broadway’s main uses in 2009 have remained the same only certain stores have opened and closed within that time.”

Since Langston Road opened in late 2017, several shops along The Broadway in Debden have been forced to shut down.

Hardware store Pirates Den, Eye Gee Opticians and Ice Events all closed in 2018, with the owners citing increased rents and poor trade as the reason why.

Mr Wilkes argued the number was "very small" compared to other shopping centres.

“You have got to remember it is very small in comparison to other centres.” Mr Wilkes added.

The senior director did report that the results of a customer survey were “rather mixed”, with many finding fault with the car parking situation on the road and the number of pub and bar facilities.

Cllr Michael Owen, of the Loughton Residents Association, questioned Mr Wilkes conclusion.

He said: “When you look at the actual spending power of the people the Broadway is one of the worse performing in the district.

“The scene on the ground is very different when I go speak to and the traders hardly anyone is there. It just seemed different to what I hear and see is there anything the report has missed or doesn’t say?”

Cllr Chris Pond agreed traders were having a financially difficult time.

He said: “The mood among the Broadway traders is not optimistic.”

When Mr Pond asked for practical suggestions on making the Broadway more attractive and viable, Mr Wilkes responded: “It needs to provide a range of shops and services that people would use on a day to day basis.”