Nearly half of the businesses canvassed in the annual Lancashire Business Survey said Grosvenor and Lend Lease's Preston Tithebarn regeneration project will not be built.
Only 52% believed the retail-led scheme, on the drawing board for most of this decade but yet to gain planning permission, will reach fruition.
The joint venture developers submitted an outline application for the 32-acre, 1.5m sq ft retail scheme in September 2008. John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Cineworld have all signed up to anchor the development. A public inquiry is expected to be held into the plans due to the scheme's scale as well as objections from rival Lancashire towns who say it would drain their own retail markets.
However, 89% of those surveyed said the Tithebarn scheme would not damage the rival East Lancashire economy around Blackburn and Burnley.
The Lancashire Business Survey was carried out by a partnership of Freshfield PR, based in Preston, Downtown Preston in Business, University of Central Lancashire, chartered accountants Moore & Smalley LLP, the North West Development Agency, and Soap Media. A total of 150 businesses from 17 sectors were interviewed for the survey.
Respondents also felt Blackpool's regeneration as the nation's favourite domestic holiday resort was not being handled well; 61% said it was being poorly managed.
The rebranding of East Lancashire as Pennine Lancashire met with limited approval, 40% saying it had been a successful exercise.