THE councillor in charge of Swindon's beleaguered town centre says it needs to be shrunk.

Cabinet member Dale Heenan wants people to think about making the central shopping area smaller – with more streets given over to housing – when they put their views forward on Swindon Borough Council's draft local plan.

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Amy Smith-Williams: "This town doesn't need more housing, it needs to provide better rates for small businesses. It's near impossible to fill the empty shops with the extortionate rates.

"Create easier options for pop up shops.

"Look at the tented market, you closed it a long time ago, ruining small businesses to put housing there – only for it to stand derelict for years."

Daniel Adams: "He is spot on. Consolidating the town centre into a denser but smaller space would kill two birds with one stone. Help improve the quality of the town centre and allow what's left to be turned over for other things. We need more housing in the town centre as well."

Lee Bennett: "Housing in the centre isn't the issue. It's making the centre attractive and profitable for independents and established businesses to set up and expand.

"Once a commercial or admin based institution is converted into a residential dwelling, it's next to impossible to undo and adds to the problem."

Elaine Cummings: "As the council don't own most the the retail outlets in the town centre, when the regeneration goes ahead who will pay for it? Will the council/government buy the buildings/land from the private owners or will the private owners invest into the regeneration?"

Matt Simpson: "The Outlet works. No drunks, no smoking, under cover. Cheap parking. Perhaps shrink high street, whack what's left under a cover. But more housing in an already densely populated town centre with stretched policing is not a good idea. Bracknell did their town centre really well even if it did take best part of five years."

Martyn Pearce: "Regent Circus should never have been built, it would have been better to attach it the the Brunel centre, a bit like Bristol or Basingstoke – cinema and food court in one area, shopping in the next, all under cover, but with access to outside on sunny days, right next to a food area."

Jessica Eggleton: "I agree. The town centre should be mixed use. Modern apartments with retail units underneath. The council need to get their head around a new way for the centre of town. Think outside the box and do something radical!"

Jade Pinnell: More houses – so tell me, how are those residents going to be accommodated in hospital with a shrinking size but a growing town?

"No logical thinking in this town – the councillors are only out for making themselves look good by building houses that we don’t need. Build another hospital. It’s ignorance at its best."

Stuart Holley: "Reduce the parking charges and the rent to businesses then business might be able to survive. People go to out-of-town shopping as it’s free to park. But even those are not great and stuff is closing down.

"Online works but those businesses also close down due to cost of returns of unwanted goods because you can’t see them before you buy. Bit of a nice pickle we have ourselves in."

Carl Robertson: "No. They should lower the rent rates to encourage people to open shops.

"It must be costing them a fortune with no rent from the empty shops everywhere."

Alexander Barrass-Haswell: "Yes, knock all the ugly 1970s buildings down, turn the rest into housing and green spaces in between.

"Build a shopping mall out of town and make the town residential again."