A plan to build a tower block of flats on the site of the closed tented market in the town centre has been shelved.

But the developer is pressing ahead with its bid for restaurants and shops.

Developer CJV Properties says the timing is wrong for flats, but its new application includes the option to add a tower later.

If approved, the plan will see the tented market which was closed in 2017 knocked down. It is increasingly shabby, with graffiti painted on it and is a favoured location for street drinkers to congregate.

Chris Moore is managing director of NC Architects, which designed the scheme.

He said: “The market is in pretty poor state and it’s not adding anything to that end of Swindon at all.”

CJV Properties already has permission for a restaurant and shop complex but has put in a new plan to accommodate the future tower.

Mr Moore said: “That was refused by the council but won on appeal.

"We’ve put in a new design, which is the same as the lower block in the tower scheme, and this has all the central core and lift shafts in it, so it would be ready for the tower to be added if things change.”

CJV’s application said the apartments proposal has been shelved because “decline in land prices, construction costs and falling demand for flats in the town centre means no residential component is currently viable.”

Mr Moore said: “Lots of development plans are struggling. Partly it’s the uncertainty over Brexit, which has affected land prices, and there is an oversupply of flats in the town centre.

“We’re trying to make sure that if things change, and we have to assume that this uncertainty won’t go on forever, that there’s a plan that’s viable now and in the future.”

He said there was no news on which restaurants or cafes might take one of the four units in the scheme and added: “There isn’t a great restaurant scene in Swindon at the moment.

"CJV Properties is a subsidiary of Panther Properties which is a major organisation, and if anyone can get someone to take a unit it’ll be them.”

Shopper Maggie Dixon said: “Anything would be better than this. If the market was still open and busy and well-used then I’d like it to stay. But it’s a bit of a dump like this.”

While CJV Properties has put its tower plan on the back burner, the owner of the Brunel Centre is pressing ahead with its own plan – lodging an application for permission to build two towers holding 290 flats on its site.