THE town centre buildings that once housed two of the UK’s biggest departments stores – Debenhams and House of Fraser – now sit empty. 

But what does the future hold for the abandoned yet prominent units that bookend Swindon's main shopping area as we move into 2022?

The Adver asked its readers what they would like to see happen to the two buildings. 

Some of the more popular suggestions included an indoor market or housing for the homeless. Others wanted big brands like Toys R Us, which is making a return to the UK, or Ikea to move in. 

People also wanted to see existing town centre shops like Primark, which trades from a relatively small unit in Regent Street, move to a bigger store to offer more variety. 

Along with every other entertainment and non-essential retail venue, Debenhams closed its doors in March 2020 as the government put the country into a national lockdown to combat Covid-19. 

But, the British shopping institution announced a month later that its Swindon store would never reopen after four decades in The Parade.

At the time a spokesperson from the company said: “Sadly we have been unable to agree terms with the landlord in Swindon and as a result this store will not be reopening when government restrictions are lifted.

When government restrictions lifted temporarily later that year, and then permanently in summer of 2021, the Falcon House building remained shut and sat uninhabited.

It was owned by investments firm Standard Life but the 1960s block was sold to Meadow Residential last year. 

House of Fraser closed in November this year. 

It was previously scheduled to close September 2020 but a last-minute rent deal with Brunel Shopping Centre landlords FI Real Estate Management offered a brief reprieve. 
But at the beginning of November a spokeswoman for the company confirmed its closure.

She said: “It is with regret that we announce the closure of House of Fraser, Swindon. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff for their hard work and dedication.

Both Meadow Residential and FI Real Estate Management were contacted about the future of the two empty units and whether or not any potential new businesses were lined up to fill them, but neither has responded.