THE owners of the Brunel centre in Swindon are pressing ahead with plans for two huge skyscrapers in the middle of town.

FI Real Estate Management, which owns the shopping centre, put in a formal application to build two towers with nearly 300 flats between them – it would see the centre totally remodelled around Wharf Green and Canal Walk.

That would include the closing of the House of Fraser outlet store by Wharf Green – but the company says the news that shop will remain open does not mean its plans have been dropped.

A spokesperson commented: “We’re pleased that House of Fraser has been able to continue trading during this period of transition.

“Our plans for the redevelopment of the Brunel remain unchanged and we’re continuing to work closely with the Council and local stakeholders to deliver our vision for Swindon.”

At the foot of the skyscrapers would be restaurants, bars, cafes and other leisure and a small park off Farnsby Street, where a ramp into the car park now sits.

The House of Fraser store had announced its closure – but a last-minute deal between the company, owned by tycoon Mike Ashley, and its landlords means the store will continue to trade and 58 jobs will not now be lost.

There is no immediate prospect of company being asked to move from its building at from the base of the towers.

FI Real Estate management put its planning application in to Swindon Borough Council in October last year and could take between up to five years even to come to planning committee for a final decision..

Shoppers at the centre yesterday had mixed views on the scheme and the likelihood of it coming off.

Kevin Maynard 62 said: “The ambition is to be applauded, I suppose, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

"It would have looked quite unlikely before Covid – but that’s changed everything.

"I don’t think people will want to live so close to other people now and I don’t know who’d want to lend the money to pay for it.

But Amber Lone was more optimistic.

She said: “This place needs something doing to it – and this would be better than building more houses on the green spaces. I think young people would want to live there before having a family.”