THE changing face of the UK’s retail scene has had a well-documented impact on Swindon town centre, with ‘closing down’ signs becoming commonplace in recent months.

And it seems one of the borough’s major shopping parks – at Greenbridge – is also feeling the pinch as it celebrates its 20th birthday.

Although the Adver can reveal today that Smyths Toy Store has plans to set up shop in Stratton St Margaret, the area remains blighted by big, empty units as it struggles to keep pace with the times.

READ: Smyths looking to open in Greenbridge

The rise of online shopping is one of the more obvious causes, but we spoke to the people of Swindon about why they have turned their backs on Greenbridge – and asked what could be done in order to tempt them back.

Rebecca Norman, from West Swindon, said: “I honestly can’t remember the last time I went to Greenbridge.

Swindon Advertiser:

“It’s too much hassle for me to travel there when a lot of the shops are close to me anyway.

“Boots and Costa are at the Orbital, Argos is in West Swindon, there’s also the Designer Outlet as well as the cinema and the restaurants in Shaw.

“Those are much easier to get to and with the amount of choices en route, traffic isn’t really an issue.”

READ: What do you want to see at Greenbridge?

Rebecca Atkins, from Priory Vale, said: “I go there for the cinema occasionally as it’s cheaper than Cineworld. I also go to the bingo.

“Other than that it’s just the samey shops that can be found nearer.”

Peter Higgs a former security guard at the site, said: “I only really go there with my wife, and she only really goes to Matalan.

“We’ve gone into Wilko and places like that but apart from that we don’t go to many of the shops.

“Maybe once or twice a fortnight we head down there, depending on what my wife wants.”

“There’s always been a wide range of shops.” Peter added. “But it’s a shame Homebase shut down because that was always handy.

Swindon Advertiser:

“I’m not sure how it will continue. Nowadays shops are shutting, it’s all going online and that’s the problem.”

Greenbridge has seen Homebase, Maplin and Office Outlet all depart in recent times, with eateries Frankie and Benny’s and Chiquito also under threat after the owner of both franchises, The Restaurant Group, saying it will close 88 of its establishments in the coming years.

On the flip side, a revamped McDonald’s – with an overhanging drive-thru making it the first of its kind in the UK – opened its doors in March

A spokesman for the retail park said: “Recent store closures mirror a wider trend facing the retail industry and are not unique to Greenbridge Retail Park.

“We are continually in discussions with existing tenants as well as potential new retailers interested in joining our line-up and we hope to be able to announce new names in due course.”

Swindon Advertiser:

Tim Major, the account manager at the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce for Swindon, said: “Whilst it is disappointing that some retailers have closed their doors at Greenbridge Retail Park, this seems to be the national picture rather than being Swindon specific.

“Online shopping has become more prevalent, and in return, retailers are having to identify new ways of encouraging footfall.

“With its links to a main artery into Swindon town centre, Greenbridge has the potential to continue driving people into its retail network.”

Russell Holland, ward councillor for St Margaret and South Marston area, said: “As a local resident, I do shop at Greenbridge.

“It’s unfortunate that some shops have closed recently but the recent investment from McDonald’s has been a positive sign.

“There does need to be some more business investment.

“There needs to be a greater variety of shops so that it gets more people in and more people spend their money.

“It’s different to what places like the Designer Outlet offers, as they have a really unique offering.

“But if people want their shops locally then those people need to shop there.”