Brunel Centre: Shops being ‘helped’ to move out to enable twin skyscraper plans

The center’s owners are ‘helping’ shopkeepers in one of Swindon’s iconic shopping destinations to find other facilities, to enable a hugely ambitious plan for high-rise apartment blocks.

As soft-play Jungle Mania comes to the end of its lease at the Brunel Center in the heart of Swindon, the mall’s owner’s FI real estate management has confirmed that it is helping some of its tenants move out.

That’s to facilitate the company’s plans to build two huge tower blocks with almost 300 flats in the northern half of the center north of Canal Walk, next to the David Murray John tower.

The company has said: “We have a long-standing commitment to Swindon, having had a presence in the city for a number of years, both as a property developer and as an asset manager.

“Recently, we have been working with Swindon City Council, our tenants and the local community to explore ways in which we can enhance the future potential of the city center through the ongoing redevelopment of the Brunel Shopping Center and surrounding areas, and the creation of a new emblematic residential and leisure scheme.

“As part of these plans, we have been helping Brunel tenants achieve their own growth goals by relocating to more fit-for-purpose units elsewhere within the center or the city in general, particularly in light of House of Fraser’s exit last year. .

“This includes the relocation of the current tenant, F Hinds, to prime land on Regent Street within Brunel, which now houses the jewelery flagship store.

“Brunel Shopping Center is a major retail destination and plays an important role in Swindon’s economy.

“We will continue to invest in its transformation as we adapt to the changing post-Covid retail landscape and in line with the Council’s wider city center regeneration strategy.”

‘Do not renew any lease’

When Jungle Mania closed, he told Adver his lease would not be renewed and linked that non-renewal to plans for the towers, which have already seen units along Wharf Green, including the one used by the House of Fraser, vacant.

One of the heads of the toy library said: “It all depends when the lease of the store ends, they (FI REM) are not renewing any, so we have to leave on November 6.

“They are turning the mall into flats.”

And the northern half of downtown is now much less populated than the rest of downtown south of the Crossing food court.

There are nine units still occupied and 10 vacant, including the original F Hinds site, an occupancy rate of less than 50 percent.

In the southern sector of downtown, things are much busier, with anchor tenants like Marks & Spencer and Boots still selling and only five units vacant, though the two-story Waterstones bookstore will soon move to a store on Canal Walk.

Last month, FI REM confirmed that it is still moving forward with plans for the two towers, which saw a formal application for planning authorization submitted in October 2019.

The taller of the two towers, which would rise directly above Canal Walk, would contain 158 one- and two-bedroom apartments, and the smaller tower further back towards Farnsby Street would contain 132.

At the bottom there will be shops, restaurants and bars, and the plans show a garden above the first-floor leisure space, living room, private dining room, meeting rooms and co-working spaces.

Swindon City Council has not yet given consent for the residential plans.

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